Sailors travel to Harrison for playoffs

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The Steamboat Springs High School football team will face Harrison in the opening round of the Class 3A playoffs.

The time and date are yet to be determined, but the game will be in Colorado Springs --probably Saturday -- because Harrison, the No. 2 seed from the Southern League, is the higher seeded team.

Steamboat is the No. 3 seed from the Western Slope League after defeating Glenwood Springs, 10-0, in Friday's snowy conditions.

The Sailors are on the same side of the playoff bracket as league champion Eagle Valley and league foe Rifle.

If Steamboat beats Harrison and Eagle Valley beats the No. 4 seed from the Metro League -- the final standings in that league were pending results of Saturday's games -- Steamboat and Eagle Valley would meet again at Gardner Field in two weeks.

Eagle Valley won the regular season game against Steamboat, 16-13, coming from behind for the victory.

"If we take care of business, and Eagle Valley takes care of business, we get a rematch on our muddy field," Sailors coach Aaron Finch said. "But we won't overlook Harrison."

Finch and Harrison coach Shawn Mitchell exchanged film Saturday in Denver.

The Panthers have an unimpressive 5-5 overall record and a 4-2 league record, but much like in the Western Slope League, the top teams in the Southern League took turns beating one another.

Harrison tied Alamosa in the standings but earned the second seed because it defeated Alamosa during the regular season.

Florence is the champion of the Southern League.

Steamboat is 8-2 overall and finished 6-2 in the league, losing to Eagle Valley and Palisade. The Sailors head into the playoffs winners of six of their past seven games.

The Panthers, on the other hand, have lost their past two games, including a 47-7 loss to Sierra on Friday.

Despite scoring just 10 points in Friday's game against Glenwood -- a point total that can be attributed to red-zone penalties and miserable field conditions -- senior Vince Grippa said the Sailors are confident they will play well in the postseason.

"We'll be ready," he said.

This is Finch's first trip to the playoffs as Steamboat's head coach. Last year, the Sailors finished fifth in the league and didn't earn a postseason berth. In 2003, while Finch was an assistant, Steamboat advanced to the state semifinals before falling to Florence.

Throughout the season, Finch has said the playoffs were the ultimate goal. On Friday night, Glenwood Springs coach Rocky Whitworth congratulated the four league teams that advanced and wished them well.

"In the playoffs, anything can happen, and it usually does," he said.

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

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