Steamboat Springs High School football player Jay Hanley listens to a speech from the team's coach, Aaron Finch, during a video review session in the locker room after practice Thursday.

Photo by Brian Ray

Steamboat Springs High School football player Jay Hanley listens to a speech from the team's coach, Aaron Finch, during a video review session in the locker room after practice Thursday.

Differing styles meet

Sailors set for first-round playoff opponents


Past Event

Class 3A football playoffs

  • Saturday, November 10, 2007, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • French Field, 1300 West Swallow Road, Ft. Collins, CO
  • All ages / $5


2007 Sailors Football

* -- State playoff game.

It will be a matchup of contrasts when Steamboat Springs and Fossil Ridge square off in the first round of the Class 3A football playoffs at 2 p.m. Saturday in Fort Collins.

Steamboat has an uptempo offense, rarely using more than three minutes to polish off drives.

Fossil Ridge runs a quasi-double wing offense that wears down defenses and the clock.

Steamboat's been to the playoffs three consecutive years, including three semifinal appearances since 2003.

Fossil Ridge - in its fourth year of existence and final year in Class 3A before moving up a classification - is entering the playoffs for the first time in school history. The SaberCats lost their first 24 games as a program.

Steamboat has players who play both offense and defense.

Many Fossil Ridge players play on only one side of the ball.

The Western Slope League is 18-11 the past three years in the playoffs. The Tri-Valley League is just 5-13.

But if there's something in common between the teams, it's that Saturday's game marks the beginning of their second season - a season both set out to make before the year started.

"Last year, in my first year, our kids just bought into what we were doing," Fossil Ridge coach Clint Fick said. "We didn't quite get there last year, but we played pretty well. This year, we started out a little bit slow but played pretty well lately. This year we had a number of kids coming back. If we didn't make the playoffs, we would have been disappointed."

Fossil Ridge has won six straight games and eight of its past nine. The team's defense has allowed 10.7 points per game, including two shutouts. The SaberCats have allowed an opponent to score 20 or more points only twice this year. They lost both times.

"I've always been a defensive guy first," Fick said. "A team that's good on defense has the chance to be a real good team. We know somewhere along the line, someone's going to stop you."

Fossil Ridge's defensive prowess can be related to its effectiveness on offense. If the SaberCats double wing is moving the ball well, it mean double-digit play drives and limited time on offense for opposing teams.

"The offense they run is a real down-and-dirty double wing," Steamboat coach Aaron Finch said. "We see it with Eagle Valley, but Fossil Ridge is more of a rugby scrum. We've been watching, and you see 12- or 18-play drives that take seven minutes off the clock. They grind it out. It's not really eloquent, but it's effective."

In a game with teams of such contrasting styles, both coaches said it's not hard to figure out the outcome will be decided by turnovers.

Steamboat knows this the best.

In last year's first-round playoff game against Fort Lupton, Steamboat created four turnovers en route to a rout.

A week later against Pueblo County, Steamboat turned the ball over on its first three possessions and went on to lose 41-7.

"Turnovers are a huge part of the game," Fick said. "It's the little things, too. I just feel we have to tackle well to win. If you miss tackles against a team with speed, the mistakes are magnified. We have to win the turnover battle or at least be even. If we do those things, we can be successful."


bikegirl 9 years, 5 months ago

GO SAILORS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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