'Boat eyes road win

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The Steamboat Springs High School football team, though positioned well for the playoffs, isn't counting on anything.

The Sailors are 5-1 overall and, perhaps more impressive, 3-1 in Western Slope League play after completing what likely was their toughest four-game stretch of the season.

And it isn't enough.

"Nobody is in the playoffs yet. Nobody has that little star saying they've qualified," Steamboat coach Aaron Finch said. "We need to keep winning football games. We have not played at that level we know we can play at yet, and we are striving for that."

The Sailors' past two victories came down to a defensive goal-line stand against rival Moffat County and a converted point-after-touchdown against Montezuma-Cortez. Although the Sailors played well against Moffat County, their six fumbles -- five of which were lost -- nearly cost them the game against Cortez.

Several defensive stands and key plays, coupled with just enough offensive production, saved Steamboat. Through six games, the Sailors are minus-four in turnover margin.

"Is anybody happy with how we played?" Finch asked about the team's win against Cortez. "Absolutely not, but we are happy with the win."

One team that gladly would trade some wins with Steamboat is Battle Mountain. The Huskies are 1-4 overall and winless in league play. Like Steamboat, Battle Mountain is a Class 3A school. Also like the Sailors, the Huskies are an athletic squad. Unfortunately for Battle Mountain, athleticism hasn't translated into wins.

"Their nose guard is one of the better athletes we will see this year," Finch said. "Offensively, they have a lot of guys running great routes and catching the ball. What I see is they have great athletes."

Battle Mountain runs a spread offense similar to that of Cortez, and Steamboat's defense did a good job containing the Panthers. Cortez had only a few big plays and had difficulty sustaining drives. Once again, the key for the Sailors will be getting pressure on the quarterback.

Steamboat could be without lineman Zack Savage, who left the Cortez game with an ankle sprain. Originally, coaches feared the ankle was broken. Savage is a game-time decision. Sophomore running back Jay Hanley, Steamboat's leading rusher, did not play against Cortez after having surgery for a hand injury. Hanley has practiced this week with a playing cast.

"I won't hold anyone out unless they aren't ready to go," Finch said. "We are hopeful for both."

The Sailors have proven depth in the backfield but haven't had the opportunity to work a number of linemen into games. The team gets Ty Robinson back after the senior lineman missed two games with a concussion. On defense, junior Joe Melius replaced Savage and recorded a sack, so the Sailors could be OK if Savage and Hanley have to sit.

Today's game against Battle Mountain begins at 7 p.m. at Battle Mountain High School in Minturn. The game can be heard on KRMR at 100.5 or 107.3 FM.

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