Saturday, September 17, 2005
In theory, Saturday was an off day for the Steamboat Springs football team.
After beating defending state champion Rifle, 14-12, on Friday, the Sailors deserved a break, but defensive coordinator Lonn Clementson was getting ready to break down film of upcoming opponent Moffat County.
"I'm supposed to take the day off, but it's hard," Clementson said. "One league win doesn't make a season. We have to be even more prepared this week than we were last week. We want to enjoy this one, but we can't rest on our laurels. If we want to win these big games, we still have work to do."
Clementson compares coaching football and scheming for an opponent to a chess game. The Sailors come in with a defensive game plan; the opponent mixes things up trying to piece a drive together. Steamboat counters the opponent's moves. The season is young, as Clemenston points out repeatedly, but the Sailors' defense has helped the team to a 3-1 start.
The only loss was a 29-0 road setback to an experienced and talented Palisade team.
Last year, Aaron Finch's first as head coach, the Sailors implemented a 3-5 scheme on defense. Steamboat started to see how well it could work when it reeled off four-straight wins to end the season.
Now, the Sailors find themselves winners of seven of their past eight games. The offense and special teams have done their part, no question, but the defense has been even more impressive.
Rifle had been averaging more than 5 yards per carry heading into Friday's game. Steamboat held the Bears to 2.5 yards per carry. It was the third time this year the Sailors held their opponent to less than 3 yards per carry.
"The kids have really bought into what we are trying to do," Clementson said. "The thing about defense, whether it's a three-man, four-man or five-man front, if you believe what you are doing is going to shut down the opposing offense, it works better. The kids believe in it and are willing to try and understand what we are trying to do."
Steamboat uses three defensive linemen: Lane Shipley, Zack Savage and Vince Grippa are the starters, but Tyler Harris rotates in. Every play, the linemen stunt, and the linebackers -- starters Thomas Allen, Jace Bonner, Westin Cofer, Sam Gary and Nigel Hammond --blitz. Sometimes two linebackers hit a gap. Sometimes three go in. Sometimes the defensive backs -- Tanner Grimes, Jack Serhant and Scott Stanko -- greet opposing backs near the line of scrimmage.
Sean Forney, Walker Hammond, Aaron Hornstein and Daniel MacArthur also rotate in to give Steamboat depth.
"Effectively, we have a five-man front. With the stunt paired with the blitz, someone should be coming free," Clemenston said. "What's developing is a (New England) Patriots mentality. They don't care who gets the tackle. They want to shut down people. ... It doesn't work very well if someone wants to be the star."
Twelve Steamboat defenders have recorded a sack, a tackle for loss, an interception, a fumble recovery or forced a fumble this season.
Up next for Steamboat is rival Moffat County, who fell to Eagle Valley on Friday night. The Sailors won two years ago. The Bulldogs won, 40-20, last year.
"It's going well now, but we have to keep it going," Clementson said. "We aren't egotistical about this at all. We know people are going to try and attack our defense. (Moffat County) will be ready."
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org