Kevin Dombey gets the impression that those outside the Steamboat Springs locker room don't believe that he and his teammates belong on the same football field as D'Evelyn.
Sure, the Sailors are 10-1 and 11 points from having the same 11-0 record as the Jaguars. But according to some Front Range predictors, Steamboat's season will end by more than two touchdowns when the Jaguars rumble into town for today's 1 p.m. game at Gardner Field.
"I still feel like we don't get any credit, and that's fine," Dombey said.
On paper, it isn't a far-fetched thought to believe D'Evelyn could win by 14 points.
The Jaguars have four players, including quarterback Josh Schneider, who have rushed for more than 450 yards this season. D'Evelyn isn't shy about passing, either. Schneider has thrown for more than 1,300 yards, as receivers Lukas Schnell and Dustin Pittman have combined to catch 50 passes for nearly 900 yards.
Anchoring the Jaguars offense and defense is a line that opposing teams have had difficulty blocking or busting through.
"We can't get lulled to sleep by their power running game and then get hit by play action," Sailors coach Mark Drake said.
However, D'Evelyn coach Chris Baker said the team's offense is much more complex than simple power runs mixed in with play action passes. In Schneider, the Jaguars have a mobile quarterback with a 6-foot, 1-inch, 180-pound frame and strong arm that is comparable to the Sailors' quarterback David May.
In fact, Baker said, while Steamboat's offense contains more motion and shifts and relies more heavily on the pass, he does see similarities between the talent and athleticism in the teams' skill players.
Steamboat will be without one of its top skill players as junior running back Brad Bonner serves the second of his two-game suspension for disciplinary reasons. Last week against Sterling, the Sailors managed just 113 yards on the ground. The normally potent passing game didn't fare well, either, gaining just 144 yards and struggling to establish a rhythm on the sloppy field.
Drake and the offensive players conceded that the defense, which held Sterling to one touchdown and an early field goal, will have to play just as well, while the offense will have to play much better, regardless of the field's conditions.
While some believe the Sailors' chances at an upset are slim, Baker said there is a reason D'Evelyn is traveling 150 miles to play Steamboat today.
"No one can take those 10 wins away," Baker said. "I don't know much about the Western Slope, but to me, Steamboat is just as worthy as everyone else. They are a well-coached team, and the boys play hard."
Likewise, the Sailors know little about the Metro league. The only statistic to measure is that three of the four Western Slope teams that made the playoffs -- Palisade, Moffat County and Steamboat -- are still playing. Only one of the five Metro teams is left: undefeated and unchallenged D'Evelyn.
"They will be a tough team, but we have spent this week preparing to win," linebacker Donald Dillon said.
Steamboat's 13-10 opening-round win gave the Sailors confidence, Drake said, that they are one of Colorado's top eight teams. But his players are far from overconfident.
"Our team has heart and desire that you can't measure and you can't see on film," Dombey said.
Lose and the Sailors are done. Win and Steamboat will have to travel to Moffat County or Florence next weekend, pending the outcome of their game, so this could be the final home game of the Sailors' season.
Kickoff between Steamboat and D'Evelyn is 1 p.m. today at Gardner Field. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students. Children 4 and younger get in free. Activity passes are not permitted.
--To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org