Winter wonderland

Steamboat nets 'fun' 47-6 win over Battle Mountain

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— Games like Friday's are fun.

Under a steady shower of snow and on top of a sloppy field of mud, the Steamboat Springs football team overpowered Battle Mountain en route to a 47-6 win.

Friday's matchup between the Sailors and Huskies was supposed to be played at Battle Mountain High School, but 15 inches of snow fell in the Vail area Thursday night, moving the game to Gardner Field.

There were no complaints coming from Steamboat. And when the snow kept on falling Friday night, it was hard to find a Sailor in a foul mood.

"It was fun," senior Will Zimmerer said. "This was my first game ever in the snow."

Should Friday's win be the final game of Steamboat's 2002 season, at least it was memorable.

Zimmerer, an offensive lineman, was given permission to kick off in the fourth quarter. The ball went 25 yards and even caught some air.

"It caught air?" Zimmerer asked.

Classmates like John Bowers, Brenden Gormley and Johnny Stanko were able to make an impact. Stanko and Gormley each had a team-high six tackles. Bowers had two carries for 25 yards, including one 22-yard run.

The dominating win also provided players like freshmen Vince Grippa and Josh Lorimer and sophomores Andrew Zopf and Henry Howard the chance to play under the lights.

"Ever since we were in fourth grade playing flag football we've waited to play with the older guys," Howard said.

The future of Steamboat's program was able to get on the field Friday because the experienced veterans did their job before heading to the sidelines in the third quarter.

Steamboat's defense opened lethargic and sloppy, allowing Battle Mountain one score off fullback Rob Reed's 21-yard run at the end of the first quarter, but it was the only time the Huskies challenged the Sailors.

Battle Mountain, 1-8 overall, netted just 88 yards in total offense, as Steamboat, 6-4, stuffed the run following the Huskies opening possession, forcing two interceptions and three fumbles.

The Sailors' offense, however, used seven different players to score seven touchdowns, mixing up the pass and run all over the field. Senior quarterback Joel Adams found receivers Chris Dombey, a junior, and Cameron Shinabarker, a senior, on 60 and 27-yard passes, respectively.

Howard, seniors Patrick Rogers and Preston Stanfill and junior Charles Breland all ran the ball across the goal line for six points, while sophomore Chris Baumann recovered a blocked punt in the Huskies' end zone to round out Steamboat's scoring. Junior Niles Nelson blocked the punt. He is, ironically, the Sailors' punter.

Zimmerer, or any of the seniors, aren't usually big fans of standing on the sidelines in bulky winter coats.

"It's fine in this situation," Zimmerer said. "You get to cheer on those players that cheer you on all year."

By winning Friday's game, the Sailors have done all they can do in regard to making the playoffs. Now, they must wait on the outcome of today's games between Harrison and Sierra and D'Evelyn and Evergreen.

Though it isn't as controversial as the BCS system in college football, the final wild-card point standings do involve some formulas and number crunching. The bottom line is the Sailors need some help.

While Sailors coach Mark Drake was pleased to get the win over the Huskies and empty his bench in the process, he couldn't help but wonder what might have been. He said after 34 years of coaching, one would think he would be used to games not going Steamboat's way, but he isn't satisfied with the season, largely because the Sailors' hopes of postseason play are small.

"Any year's a disappointment if we don't make the playoffs," Drake said. "I want it for those kids. When they give it their all, you become so attached."

Kids like Stanfill are why Drake enjoys coaching so much. During the season, Stanfill was forced to relinquish his job as a starter to become the backup quarterback because of injuries. Stanfill's minutes dropped dramatically, and as a senior, that seems like it would be hard to swallow.

On Friday, he played everywhere, including quarterback and ran three times for 24 yards, completed one pass for 11 yards and even scored a touchdown. After the game, he came into the coach's office and shook Drake's hand, thanking him.

If the season ended Friday night, at least it did so with smiles and a delightful rendition of the Hokey Pokey.

To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdlsey@steamboatpilot.com

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