Saturday, September 10, 2005
The Steamboat Springs High School football team was able to get by without a passing game for two weeks.
Defense, opportunistic special teams and a formidable rushing attack masked the team's lack of a passing game.
On Friday night, Palisade loaded the box, daring Steamboat to throw the ball. The Sailors struggled, and it is all but guaranteed that Rifle (1-1 overall) will use the same defensive strategy in its game against Steamboat (2-1) at 7 p.m. Friday at Gardner Field.
Junior quarterback Tanner Stillwell completed four passes for 25 yards Friday, which nearly surpassed the passing output of the first two games combined.
By all accounts, the Sailors are improving on their pass timing and route running. Now, the receivers need to catch the ball.
"What Palisade does is take sure risks relative to the pass," Steamboat coach Aaron Finch said. "It's tough to run against. If you don't catch passes to wide open guys ... We had guys open."
Stillwell is athletic and a dangerous runner, much like Palisade junior quarterback Jake Watt. The difference Fri--day was that Steamboat's defense had to respect Palisade's ability to run and pass after Watt completed three first-quarter passes for 70 yards.
That doesn't mean the Sailors have to average 300 passing yards a game. Watt attempted just three passes during the remainder of his team's 29-0 win Friday, but Steamboat had to respect the threat of a deep ball, which helped keep the defense off balance and open holes for Palisade's rushing attack.
The Sailors did get seniors Walker Hammond and Thomas Allen back on offense Friday. Both are good runners and could be used in the passing game, as well, because of speed and experience.
Junior tight end Jace Bonner is the tallest of Steamboat's receivers at 6-foot-2. Seniors Tanner Grimes and Scott Stanko, who has a touchdown reception this season, are the Sailors' other receivers.
Steamboat is averaging 215 yards rushing through three games, which is more than respectable. Against the bottom half of the league, a formidable ground game likely will be enough to win.
Against upcoming opponents Rifle and Moffat County, however, the Sailors will have to find a way to make the Bears and Bulldogs respect Stillwell's arm.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail email@example.com