Sailors awarded No. 11 seed in playoffs

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2007 Sailors Football

* -- State playoff game.

— The Steamboat Springs High School football team's attention turned to the postseason Sunday, when it was awarded the No. 11 seed and a first-round matchup against sixth-seeded Fossil Ridge in Fort Collins. The game will be played Friday or Saturday at a time to be determined.

The Colorado High School Activities Association determined playoff seeding based on a team's overall record, league record, league standing, strength of schedule, strength of conference, strength of nonleague games and record in its past five games. CHSAA announced the 16-team Class 3A playoff bracket Sunday.

If Steamboat beats Fossil Ridge, the Sailors will play the winner of No. 14 Centaurus and No. 3 Pueblo County. Last year, Steamboat lost in the second round to Pueblo County, 41-7.

"We do a meeting in January and talk about what is the goal of this team, and that's to make the playoffs," Steamboat coach Aaron Finch said. "It's nice for the third year in a row to have achieved that goal. We're excited to see if we can make a run."

Fossil Ridge was the second-place team out of the Tri-Valley League. Fossil Ridge finished the year 8-2, with their only losses coming to playoff teams Rock Canyon and Fort Morgan.

The Sabrecats run the double-wing formation similar to the one used by Eagle Valley. Finch said Fossil Ridge runs the ball well, but what really makes the Sabrecats a top team is their defense.

Fossil Ridge limited opponents to 10.7 points per game this year, including two shutouts. The team allowed more than 20 points in a game just twice.

Finch said the Fossil Ridge defense should be a good test for a Steamboat offense that has been putting up eye-popping numbers the past six weeks.

The Sailors' latest strong performance came Friday against Battle Mountain. Behind the running of Jay Hanley (141 yards), Austin Hinder (102 yards) and Fraser Egan (88 yards), Steamboat put 56 points on the board and gained 501 yards of total offense.

"The guys really stepped up," Finch said. "We're comfortable that we can throw well, but when you're running it that well, it's hard to throw."

Finch said he was excited to get to practice this week to see how the team reacts. Because the Sailors had all but wrapped up the third seed from the Western Slope League three weeks ago, Finch said preparing for Rifle and Battle Mountain presented some challenges.

"It's was a little hard to get really focused as we would all like the last couple of weeks," Finch said. "But I think they've worked hard and success breeds confidence. They've relied on each other and with that they've become a good football team."

Other Western Slope League teams to make the playoffs include No. 2 seed Glenwood Springs, No. 5 Palisade and No. 16 Rifle.

Glenwood will play No. 15 Sterling, Palisade will play No. 12 seed D'Evelyn, and Rifle plays at top seed Falcon.

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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