Coach looks into reports

Film reveals few flaws

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One day after an emotional win for the Steamboat Springs football team and an even more emotional loss for the Battle Mountain squad, Sailors coach Aaron Finch sat down to watch the film.

Steamboat was flagged for 103 yards in penalties in Friday's 42-9 rout of Battle Mountain, and was accused of being "classless" by Huskies coach Pat Engle.

The film, Finch said Saturday, suggests otherwise.

"We talked a lot (last week) about keeping our head," Finch said. "And in the tapes, our guys kind of stood up and turned their backs and walked away. I cannot find one incident of our guys in their faces. ... In this game, they listened to their coach and did what was asked of them. That was all that I could find."

Finch said he even checked in with the officials at halftime to gauge his team's temperament -- or lack thereof.

"The officials said they were doing great," Finch said.

Although the personal foul and unsportsmanlike penalties cost the most yards and draw the most attention, holding is the call the Sailors most frequently are flagged for, Finch said, having reviewed film in recent weeks.

One play in particular, the outside toss, is where the problem lies. The problem, however, isn't apparent. Finch was an offensive lineman at Colorado State University, so it would be fair to say that he would have a good idea of what holding is. Steamboat is getting flagged for holds on the lead blocks that frequently free up Brad Bonner near the sidelines.

In recent weeks, the holes have turned into four-lane expressways, as the Sailors continue to improve on their offensive execution and blocking. Finch said there were several legitimate calls against Steamboat blockers Friday, but there also were several holding calls he couldn't find on film.

He and his players are passionate about winning football games, so he is trying to be proactive in rectifying the penalty situation. It may simply come down to him getting clarification from officials as to what they are looking for on blocks, which he said he likely would do.

It also may come down to someone letting people know the offensive line is improving and that lead blockers Charlie Pappas, Clay McKenzie and Daniel Coloccia are quicker and more athletic than most of the opposition. It also is worth noting that Bonner is a great running back, arguably the best in the Western Slope League, given that he isn't running behind veteran 245-pound linemen.

Beautiful is the word Finch keeps using to describe Bonner's style.

"He's so graceful," Finch said. "No one gets a shot at him. He has the ability to find the hole and accelerate through."

Anyone who has seen the Sailors play this season knows what Finch is talking about. Bonner takes the handoff and doesn't just run toward the outside or through the middle. It's almost as if the game is moving one-step slower for him when he pauses to assess the field.

On Friday, Bonner said he keys off his lead blockers on the outside sweep, a play that has been unstoppable for two weeks. He has a combined 358 yards in the past two weeks.

"We are one of the few high school teams that can zone block because he can see the cuts," Finch said. "We are starting to get it because we put Clay in at the end of the game, and the play still worked."

McKenzie gained 43 yards in the second half.

Bonner doesn't say much, but his teammate and classmate Tyler Fosdick said Bonner is one of the hardest working players on the team. On Friday, he and the seniors who have worked so hard for months were rewarded with a win, and the defense was rewarded with several sacks, many tackles for lost yards and a shutout by the first string.

But it wasn't just the seniors who deserved the win. Many juniors and sophomores have been showing up at practice when it was difficult to do so.

But first-year starters such as Lane Shipley, Alex Centner, Tucker Campbell, Walker Hammond, Sam Gary, Jack Serhant and Tanner Stillwell also played well Friday. All are back next season, along with a host of other juniors, sophomores and freshmen who can't wait to contribute full-time.

But Friday was all about the senior class, who waited 11 months to win again. The practices leading up to the Battle Mountain game had been loose, but Bonner said it wasn't because Steamboat had -- or has -- given up.

"We had been taking it so serious and kept losing," he said. "So we had some fun."

And they were reminded what it feels like to win in the process.

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