- Friday, October 24, 2008, 7 p.m.
It's late October and football playoffs are on nearly every team's mind.
The Class 3A Steamboat Springs High School football team knows it's in, and Class 2A Buena Vista will decide its playoff fate next week against Salida.
So what to make of today's 7 p.m. game at Buena Vista, which essentially holds no playoff bearing for either team?
"We want to go out and win a football game," Steamboat coach Aaron Finch said. "At this point you don't want to lose. We've won three in a row and would like to make it four in a row (Friday) and keep the momentum going."
But both Finch and veteran Buena Vista coach Bob Marken admit the game does present more challenges than a normal week.
In addition to playoff concerns, each coach said it's a tough time to get players not to have one eye on the next week. For Buena Vista, Week 10's showdown with chief rival Salida could be the season's crux. Steamboat will play Class 3A No. 1 Glenwood Springs to determine where the Sailors are seeded in the playoffs.
"We approach it as we're playing a great 3A team," Marken said of tonight's contest. "It's a game that prepares us. Steamboat is the caliber of team we'll have to play deep in the playoffs."
Although the tendency might be to hold out players and run vanilla schemes with a look toward Week 10 and beyond, both coaches want to win today.
Winning for Buena Vista starts with senior playmaker Larson Greenfield, who plays tailback and quarterback. Greenfield is the third leading rusher in the state, amassing 1,738 yards and 14 touchdowns. Last season as a junior, he ran for 2,085 yards and 25 touchdowns. His lowest output this year was a 151-yard effort against Florence in the first game of the season.
"He's one of those guys with the stuff you don't teach," Marken said. "He's got good speed, not blazing speed, but he never gets caught."
Steamboat's 3-5 defense will be key to containing Greenfield. The Sailors have been tough on defense for most of the season, but with their aggressive style and the ability of the Steamboat offense to score from anywhere, Marken said the game might come down to which team makes more - and gives up less - big plays.
"I think playing a defense like Steamboat, you expect you're going to have some plays that result in a loss," Marken said. "What we have to sell to our players is to stay consistent and keep our heads about us because we'll have the chance to hit the big one."
While even Finch admitted it's tough not to look toward Glenwood Springs, he said he's been pleased with practice this week.
The bottom line for the Sailors, he said, is using each week to get better as a football team. That, he said, starts today.
"I repeat myself but the goal all summer through the beginning of season is to make the playoffs. This is the fourth year in a row we've been able to," Finch said. "Now we're resetting the new goal now that we're in the second season. The only goal now is to win your last game and be state champions."
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