Had senior Casey Earp been required to grade the Steamboat Springs' overall performance in a 49-14 victory against Delta, he would have given it an A-, about a 91 out of a 100.
"Because there's always room for improvement," he said.
On the other hand, he and teammates Donald Dillon, David May, Charlie Pappas and Chris Dombey deserved an A+, Earp said, for their water cooler dump on Mark Drake, leaving the coach soaked and cold in the closing two minutes of Friday's homecoming win.
"Coach was really psyched up for this game," Earp said.
Judging by the effort the Sailors carried from the opening kickoff through the final whistle, it was apparent that everyone on the team was ready to face the Panthers.
Steamboat scored on its first two possessions, establishing a quick 14-0 lead that Delta was never able to overcome, as the Sailors improved to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the league to stay within a win's reach of the leader.
After Moffat County's 21-7 win against Rifle on Friday, the current Western Slope leader is the Bulldogs.
The Sailors came out early in Friday's game and tried to establish a running game that has been dormant over the past two weeks. Behind Brad Bonner and Shea Hurley, the Sailors amassed 65 rushing yards in the first quarter, mostly to the perimeter of the Panthers' defense.
"On tape it looked like you could run off the tackle, and we had some decent success," Drake said.
Delta pulled to within a touchdown with 4 minutes, 5 seconds left in the first quarter off quarterback Blake Carlquist's 15-yard completion to Curtis Englehart, but Steamboat answered with a short scoring drive of its own-highlighted by a 24-yard completion to Lonny Radford and a penalty from Delta that set up Bonner's 7-yard scoring run with 2:25 left in the first quarter.
The Panthers and Sailors combined for 294 offensive yards in the first quarter alone.
The difference was Steamboat moved the ball with ease for the remainder of the game, while Delta ran into an inspired Steamboat defense caught in the shadow of its own high-powered offense.
"The defense is coming together," Drake said. "Coach (Bob) Harris has made some changes, and they came up with a great game- plan. I was pleased with their aggressiveness."
With the score sitting at 28-7, both teams combined for a series of three-and-outs before Steamboat's defense recorded the first of its two interceptions Friday night.
Dillon got the Sailors' first pick and returned the Carlquist interception 36 yards, setting up May's 7-yard scoring pass to Dombey.
"We called a stunt with the inside backers," Dillon said recounting the play. "It was a screen, and his receiver was behind me."
After allowing two Palisade players to rush for more than 100 yards last week, Steamboat's first-string defense did not allow one Delta player more than 74 yards on the ground, and the Panthers' Brett Christie got more than half of his 74 rushing yards on one 41-yard sideline scamper in the first quarter.
"We had a good week of practice," Dillon said. "We have a lot of team morale on defense."
The Sailors' offense added two more touchdowns off short quarterback keepers in the third quarter, while the defense -- first and second string -- held the Panthers scoreless during the game's final 24 minutes.
Steamboat returns to action at 7 p.m. Oct. 10 against Glenwood Springs in Glenwood Springs, and follows that game with back-to-back contests against Rifle and Moffat County.
"It's going to be exciting," Earp said of the upcoming schedule. "There are no easy games left. We've got Glenwood next, and they are a good team."
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail email@example.com