Florence to bring strong game

Huskies have two losses, but they're also the defending state champs

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Steamboat Springs defeated D'Evelyn, which beat Alamosa, which upended Florence, which means Steamboat should beat Florence, right?

Maybe.

Florence (10-2) is the defending state champion and a repeat visitor to the state semifinals for a reason. The Huskies have nearly 30 players back from last year's squad. Nineteen of those returning lettermen are seniors, so Florence brings a wealth of playoff experience to the 1 p.m. game Saturday against Steamboat (11-1).

Playoff experience "helps, but you still have to go out and play and execute and not make mistakes," Huskies coach Mark Buderus said. "Mistake free football, field position and great defense gets it done in the end. That's what the four teams left are doing now."

Florence, Steamboat Springs, Palisade and Mountain View represent the final four standing in Class 3A. Two will meet in the Nov. 29 final.

Courtesy of coin flips from the Colorado High School Activities Association, if Steamboat wins Saturday, the Sailors will host the Class 3A state championship, regardless of the outcome of the Palisade and Mountain View game.

Talk about incentive.

But the road to the finals goes through the defending state champ in Florence, and the Huskies have looked every bit the top team in the state since a 24-14 loss at Alamosa on Oct. 17.

Florence has rolled through the playoffs with big wins over Skyview and Moffat County.

"We are still making a lot of mistakes," Buderus said. "There is still a lot of room for improvement."

Florence has the most dangerous backfield in Class 3A. And though the Huskies' option and veer offense isn't as flashy as the Sailors' air attack, it is effective and, for the most part, nearly impossible to defend.

Senior fullback Ty Buderus and senior tailback Matt Ortiz have combined to carry the football 314 times for 2,293 yards through 12 games. Throw in quarterback Jeremy Young's 1,000 yards rushing, and what the Huskies have is a three-bodied backfield that dares opponents to try and stop them.

Never mind that Young is a sophomore leading his team to victories.

"Their fullback is unstoppable," Steamboat coach Mark Drake said of Buderus, the coach's son. "He's their big gun and as good as probably anyone we've seen."

Last weekend against D'Evelyn, Steamboat's defense held the run-oriented Jaguars to just 64 yards on the ground. The Sailors' run defense will have to be equally prepared and even more disciplined if they hope to contain the Huskies on Saturday, Drake said.

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