Smooth sailing

Steamboat defense shuts down Fort Lupton for a 28-0 win


Game statistics

Fort Lupton Steamboat

5 First Downs 11

29-34 Rushes-Yards 35-129

2-9-3 Comp-Att-Int 6-11-0

17 Yards Passing 69

51 Total Yards 198

5-33 Punts-Avg. 3-40

2-1 Fumbles-lost 0-0

6-45 Penalties-Yards 5-45


Fort Lupton 00-00-00-00-00

Steamboat 14-14-00-00-28


First Quarter

S 4:19, Tanner Stillwell 3 run. (Ben DeLine kick).

S 2:48, Houston Mader 26 INT return. (DeLine kick).

Second Quarter

S 10:46, Jay Hanley 25 run. (DeLine kick).

S 5:58, Hanley 3 run. (DeLine Kick).



S: Hanley 21-99, 2 TD; Stillwell 5-(-23), 1 TD; Mader 4-42; Jace Bonner 1-16; Aaron Hornstein 3-(-8); Westin Cofer 1-3.

F: Kale McShane 9-24; Joel Mudd 6-(-13); Abraham Balderrama 4-3; John Finkbiner 2-10; Leroy Grigsby 3-(-4); Tyler Williamson 1-7; Alaric Flakes 1-4; Zack Nash 2-3.


S: Stillwell 6-11-0 69 yards.

F: Mudd 2-8-3 17 yards. Finkbiner 0-1-0.


S: Nigel Hammond 2-17; Bonner 1-14; Matthew Lettunich 1-14; Cofer 1-18; Hornstein 1-6.

F: Williamson 1-20; Finkbiner 1-(-3).


Houston Mader returns an interception for a touchdown, and is hit as he crosses the goal line during the Sailors' 28-0 win against the Fort Lupton Bluedevils on Saturday. The Sailors will travel to Pueblo County, but the game time and date have not yet been determined.


Sailor Eric Bonner grabs an interception a few minutes into the third quarter during Steamboat's 28-0 victory against Fort Lupton on Saturday.


The Sailors' defensive line stops the Bluedevils running game as Lane Shipley penetrates and sacks Bluedevil quarterback Joel Mudd.

— A week after the Steamboat Springs offense put up an eye-popping 446 yards rushing, the defense returned the statistical favor against Fort Lupton in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.

A swarming Sailors defense limited the Bluedevils to just 51 yards and five first downs in a 28-0 shutout Saturday at Gardner Field.

The defense allowed Fort Lupton to cross midfield only twice and caused four turnovers, including three interceptions, one of which Houston Mader took back 26 yards for a touchdown.

The game featured a couple of firsts for the Steamboat defense - Mader's return was the first defensive touchdown the Sailors have scored all year. It was also the first time Steamboat has shut out an opponent this year.

"Those have been some goals we've had all season," Coach Aaron Finch said. "It's really good to see that happen in the playoffs."

It wasn't all defense for the Sailors as the offense came out in the first half and put the Bluedevils in a hole. Steamboat quarterback Tanner Stillwell got the scoring started late in the first quarter when he ran in from 3 yards out.

Then, on the next possession for Fort Lupton, Mader intercepted a pass from Bluedevils quarterback Joel Mudd. The ball initially glanced off Steamboat linebacker Nigel Hammond before Mader caught it and outran three Fort Lupton players to the end zone.

"That was great," Mader said of the interception. "Nigel set it up for me perfectly. I just put myself in the right position to make a play."

After another Sailor interception, this time from linebacker Westin Cofer, Steamboat used only one play before running back Jay Hanley ran around the right side, broke three tackles and scored from 25 yards out.

On the next Sailors possession, Hanley scored his second touchdown of the game, this time from 3 yards away, to make it 28-0.

Although the offense produced, Finch said the Sailors' mentality begins and ends with defense.

"We use our speed and just get real pumped up," linebacker Jace Bonner said. "We just go as hard as we can and (defensive coordinator Lonn Clementson's) defensive strategies work pretty darn well."

It wasn't all pretty for the Sailors. In the second half, the offense struggled with penalties and Fort Lupton's blitz packages. Stillwell was sacked three times and, after having the ball first-and-goal on the 3-yard line, the Sailors were penalized 35 yards on three plays to put them out of field goal range.

Finch said that shows his team that there is still room for improvement.

"The way (Fort Lupton) came out in the second half, boy, that was a different football team," Finch said. "In the second half, Fort Lupton changed up what they were doing and were pretty effective. We'll learn from that and do a better job."

For Fort Lupton, the inexperience of making its first trip to the playoffs in 14 years showed. In the first half, the Bluedevils gained only 12 yards offense and couldn't stop the Sailors' running game. Still, coach Bob Hudson had to fight back tears when he talked about his team.

"These kids will battle you to the end," Hudson said. "I think that's what makes me proud of this team."

With the win, the Sailors advance to the second round of the playoffs and will play Pueblo County, who beat Sterling, 28-14, on Saturday. The game will be played at Pueblo County, but a day and time has not yet been set.

Either way, Finch said he's confident with the way his team is playing.

"There is nobody soft left," Finch said. "All eight teams that are playing next weekend are really fine football teams. We'll be going down to Pueblo, and they almost beat (No. 1 ranked) Alamosa and played (last year's state champion) Florence tough. So, we're going to have our hands full."


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