Sailors can't underestimate Eagle Valley

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— On paper, Steamboat Springs has a decided advantage tonight against Eagle Valley.

Eagle Valley is 0-2. Steamboat is 3-0 and coming off a win against state powerhouse Palisade.

Still, if there's one thing Steamboat Springs football coach Aaron Finch can take away from looking at film of Eagle Valley, it's that the Sailors can't underestimate the Devils.

"Our league is such that there is nobody you can overlook," Finch said. "The league just seems to keep getting better and better. : If we don't play with that intensity that we played with the first three games, then we'll become an average team."

Finch said the intensity and focus in practice this week has been good.

"I think we were in pretty good shape this week," he said. "We had good energy."

Last week against Palisade, the Sailors were without starting running back Jay Hanley, who was nursing an injured hip. This week, Finch said Hanley will be a game-time decision. Even without Hanley, Sean Forney and Eric Bonner are capable runners, Finch said.

"We were happy with the job Sean and Eric did last week," Finch said. "We think they can fill in and are only going to get better this week."

Forney ran for 55 yards against Palisade, and Forney had 21.

Tonight's game will pit two league foes that are very familiar with each other.

The Devils lost to the Sailors in the playoffs last year and played them at the Mesa State camp this year.

"We've watched a lot of tape on them," Devils coach John Ramunno said. "We know who Steamboat is."

Eagle Valley is a team experiencing some growing pains. The Devils have nine new starters on offense and 10 on defense. In their first two games this year, Ramunno said the inexperience has shown. The Devils lost to Summit and Roaring Fork by a combined eight points. Against Summit, Ramunno said penalties were the villain, while too many turnovers cost them against Roaring Fork.

"We've had some mistakes where we looked back and said, 'If we don't do that, we probably win the game,'" Ramunno said. "We're looking to play a smarter game and be more strong mentally."

Finch said the Devils' defense has been solid this year. On offense, Eagle Valley has struggled more. But Finch said the Devils' double wing - an offense predicated on misdirection - can be dangerous.

"If we bring the intensity on defense, then we feel we understand their offense well and we can contain it to a certain extent," Finch said. " We'll let them nickel and dime us today, but we don't want to give up the big play."

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