Hayden High School running back Treyben Letlow carries the ball at Wednesday's practice as assistant coach Bob Harris, right, oversees the "submarine" blocking drill. Harris said the offensive and defensive lines will set the tone for the Tigers when they host a first-round playoff game at 1 p.m. Saturday against Sanford.

Photo by Dave Shively

Hayden High School running back Treyben Letlow carries the ball at Wednesday's practice as assistant coach Bob Harris, right, oversees the "submarine" blocking drill. Harris said the offensive and defensive lines will set the tone for the Tigers when they host a first-round playoff game at 1 p.m. Saturday against Sanford.

Youth soccer starts strong

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Two Steamboat Springs teams finished undefeated in the 2007 Colorado Youth Soccer Association's fall league - and a third team is chasing that goal.

Steamboat's U-11 and U-14 boys teams both scored perfect 10-0 records. A third Steamboat team, the U-15 girls team, currently is 8-0 with two games remaining.

Clay Rogers, Steamboat's U-14 coach, is not surprised by the success.

"I actually thought this team would go 10-0 when the season began," Rogers said.

The Steamboat team was very competitive in the "classic" division in the CYSA fall league last year. But this year, Steamboat players and coaches learned the team would be dropped into a lower-level "challenge" division.

CYSA officials made the move because the Steamboat team did not participate in the spring league.

"We normally don't play in the spring. The field conditions up here mean that we would have to play every game on the road, and it's impossible to practice," Rogers said. "I guess we had a little chip on our shoulder when the season began. We wanted to show the league they made a mistake."

The Steamboat team cruised through its season, blowing out seven of the 10 teams it faced. The squad also survived a few close calls, including one-goal contests against United Pride 94 (4-3) and Club United Black (2-1).

Rogers said the team's most challenging test came three weeks ago, when the Steamboat team fell behind Pride United, 2-0, early. But Steamboat battled back and scored the game-winning goal just as the game-ending whistle blew.

The coach said the team's success was a blend of talent and teamwork.

"We didn't have any standouts on this team," Rogers said. "Every single player on this team scored a goal, and I think that says a lot about our team."

U-11

"If you had asked me a year ago if this team would be perfect, I would have said no," U-11 coach Michael de Jong said. "This is more than I expected from this group of players."

He said the players' greatest strength came from the relationships they shared with one another on and off the field.

"These guys were great friends," de Jong said. "That helped them grow as players this season, and was a big part of why they finished a perfect 10-0."

The coach thinks his players' friendship was a big reason they thrived during a challenging final weekend against two of the division's top teams.

The weekend opened with a 5-1 victory against the league's No. 3 team, The Colorado Explosion Gold, at the Thornton Recreation Center. On Sunday, Steamboat wrapped up its season with an equally impressive 4-1 victory against the league's No. 2 team, the previously unbeaten Rocky Mountain Cougars.

"This team really didn't have a weak link," de Jong said. "None of our players were sitting on the sidelines. This was a very balanced team, and all of the players contributed to our success."

Nathan DePuy led Steamboat's high-powered offensive attack with 13 goals this season. He got help from Mitch McCannon, who finished with eight goals, and Cole Henry, who finished with seven goals. Steamboat outscored its opponents, 41-10.

Goalkeeper Ryan Musselman recorded three shutouts this season.

Soccer success

There are only a couple of weeks left in CYSA's fall season, and several local teams are near the top of the standings.

Steamboat's U-15 girls team is sporting an 8-0 record with two games remaining in the Challenge 1 division. Other top teams include the U-13 girls team, which is 7-0-1; the U-12 boys team, which is 8-1-1; the U-13 boys team, which is 6-0-3; and the U-12 girls team, which is 6-2-2.

-To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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