Friday, September 9, 2005
Looking every bit like one of the state's elite Class 3A teams, Palisade defeated Steamboat Springs 29-0 Friday in Grand Junction.
It was Homecoming for the Bulldogs. Spurred on by the week's festivities or more likely by the desire to retain its top three ranking -- No. 1 in the Rocky Mountain News and No. 3 in the Denver Post -- Palisade was efficient and dominant Friday at Stocker Stadium.
"They know what they are doing and came out and did it," Sailors coach Aaron Finch said. "Palisade is a football program."
Finch, a former offensive lineman, said the Bulldogs are driven by the size and skill of their offensive line. Friday, Palisade amassed 326 yards on the ground. Jason Popick and Levon Davis took turns running through holes ripped open by their line.
"We knew it was coming," Sailor senior Thomas Allen said.
The score could have been more one-sided if not for several drive-stopping plays from the Sailors' defense.
Palisade opened the game with a convincing 10-play scoring drive that ended with Davis breaking free to the outside for a 29-yard run at the 9:08 mark. The Bulldogs didn't try anything tricky, running nine times and throwing just one pass to move 80 yards downfield.
Palisade was in the red zone twice more in the first quarter, but both drives ended inside the 10 on great plays from Steamboat's defense.
The first came when Popick fumbled the ball at the 7-yard line. He recovered but was smothered behind the line of scrimmage on fourth down. Popick coughed it up again with less than a minute to go in the first. This time the Sailors recovered in a pile near the goal line with 55 seconds left.
The Sailors began to move the ball in the second quarter behind the two newest running backs to the offense -- Walker Hammond and Allen. They combined for 52 yards Friday. Friday's game was Hammond's first after getting mononucleosis this summer. It was Allen's first on offense after injuring an ankle earlier this season.
The Palisade coaches were in the stands during the Sailors' win against Arvada last Saturday and undoubtedly saw Steamboat's Jay Hanley run for 220 yards. Consequently, Hanley had zero room to roam, netting 31 yards on 11 carries.
"I just watch everybody," Palisade coach John Arledge said. "They are a good team and well coached. You have to prepare for everybody."
The Sailors' best chance to score was in the final minute of the first half when Jack Serhant returned the kickoff to the 47-yard line. Serhant bobbled the ball long enough for the Palisade coverage to overrun the play. Steamboat moved the ball to the Palisade 26-yard line on the possession but were unable to get any closer. The Bulldogs took a knee to end the half but not before adding two scores in the second quarter to distance themselves from the visiting Sailors.
The Bulldogs tacked on another score in the fourth on a 68-yard run from Popick.
Up next for Steamboat (2-1 overall, 0-1 in the Western Slope League) is a 7 p.m. game Friday against the defending state champion Rifle Bears at Gardner Field in Steamboat.