Not so special

Despite good kickers, Sailors struggle on special teams

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Steamboat Springs vs. Laramie statistics

Game statistics

First Downs 23

Rushes-Yards 62-272

Comp-Att-Int 23-39-2

Yards Passing 312

Total Yards 584

Punts-Avg. 9-44

Fumbles-lost 1-0

Penalties-Yards 15-132

Score by quarters

Quarter 1 2 3 4 Final

Steamboat 20 09 17 13 - 53

Opponent 00 14 00 18 - 35

Individual Season Statistics

Rushing

S: Jay Hanley 37-209, 2 TD; Sean Forney 7-34; Jace Bonner 5-31; Aaron Hornstein 4-21; Josh Mangold 4-8; Tanner Stillwell 4-(-25); Alex Wood 1-(-6).

Passing

S: Stillwell 22-36-2 292 yards, 3 TD; Wood 1-3-0 20 yards.

Receiving

S: Hanley 5-29, Hornstein 2-18; Westin Cofer 4-63, 2 TD; Nigel Hammond 4-72; Michael Stewart 4-57, 1 TD; Houston Mader 1-7.

Western Slope scores

Battle Mountain 35, Aspen 2

Montrose 43, Delta 0

Summit 14, Eagle Valley 12

Roaring Fork 23, Glenwood Springs 16

Moffat County 46, Rawlings, Wyo. 0

San Juan, Utah 21, Montezuma-Cortez 0

Palisade 27, Grand Junction Central 10

Valley 28, Rifle 12

photo

Barbara J. Perenic/Laramie Boomerang

Kam Carter, left, of Laramie High School tackles running back Jay Hanley of Steamboat Springs High School during Friday's game at Deti Stadium in Laramie, Wyo. Despite struggling on special teams, the Sailors beat Laramie, 53-35.

— It's been a case of the good, the bad and the ugly for the Steamboat Springs special teams this year.

The good: Ben Deline and Jace Bonner's right feet.

The bad: a blocked extra point and a fake punt leading to a first down for Laramie Friday night.

The ugly: Laramie's 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

"We want to be better - there's no question about it," Sailor head coach Aaron Finch said about Steamboat's special teams.

The game against Laramie had the good and bad. Deline connected on a 40-yard field goal in the third quarter. The kick made him 4-of-6 on field goals this year. He has also consistently kicked the ball deep on kickoffs, leaving teams with a long field and allowing the swarming Sailor defense to be more aggressive.

Bonner has also kicked the ball well. So far, Bonner is averaging 44 yards a punt with a long of 68. Finch

said having weapons like that, the Sailors usually win the field position battle.

"We're kind of blessed with a lot of talent in those areas," Finch said.

Still, Finch said the shabby play of the special teams almost cost his team the game against Laramie. After Steamboat scored on its first drive, Deline's extra point was blocked. Then after the defense stopped the Plainsmen, a fake punt kept a Laramie drive going.

"It just seems like remembering how important that part of the game is, can slip when you get into the season," Finch said.

Then the biggest blow came when Laramie's Cody Suder returned a kick for a touchdown. Although Finch said Suder is one of the most athletic players he's seen in his three years as coach in Steamboat, he said the mental lapse is inexcusable.

"It takes all 11 players to be successful on special teams," he said. "Special teams kept Laramie in the game."

With Palisade on the horizon, Finch said the Sailors have to shore up the special teams if they hope to have a chance against the Western Slope powerhouse. Finch said the coaching staff has looked at the film and found some of the areas where Steamboat can improve. Although Finch said special teams are often overlooked, he never downplays the importance of it.

"It's absolutely important," he said. "We practice it every day. It's the first thing we work on so everybody is fresh. I truly believe a large part of games are decided by special teams."

-To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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