Steamboat Springs High School senior football player Joe Dover, shown at practice earlier this season, scored three touchdowns last week at Delta. Dover and the Sailors are looking for a big win today when they host Montezuma-Cortez at 7 p.m.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat Springs High School senior football player Joe Dover, shown at practice earlier this season, scored three touchdowns last week at Delta. Dover and the Sailors are looking for a big win today when they host Montezuma-Cortez at 7 p.m.

Sailors football plays host to Panthers today at 7 p.m.

Game to be broadcast live on steamboatpilot.com

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If you go

What: Steamboat football (2-0) vs. Montezuma-Cortez (0-2)

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Gardner Field

Tailgate party

The Steamboat Springs High School Spirit Club hosts a tailgate party from 5 to 6:30 p.m., before the Sailors home football game, in the high school parking lot. The event is sponsored by Steamboat Motors. There will be free hamburgers, chips and water. Come support the Sailors.

Watch the game live

To watch a live broadcast of today's game, log onto www.steamboatpilo...>

2009 Steamboat statistics

Steamboat/Stat/Opponent

26.First Downs/28

43-155/Rushes-Yards/58-279

35-54-2/Comp-Att-Int/27-46-3

478/Yards Passing/388

633/Total Yards/667

5-35/Punts-Avg./7-31

2-0/Fumbles-lost/3-1

13-100/Penalties-Yards/27-231

- Score by quarter

Opponent 07-13-00-28-48

Steamboat 16-22-19-20-77

- Rushing

Connor Landusky 6-16; Austin Hinder 18-73, 2 TD; Dylan Pivarnik 3-7; Jake Miller 1-(-1); Joe Dover 15-64, 3 TD.

- Passing

Hinder 35-54-2, 478 yards, 6 TD.

- Receiving

Jack Verploeg 6-47, 1 TD; Jack Spady 11-231, 3 TD; Cody Harris 4-21; Pivarnik 7-98, 2 TD; Bryce Mayo 2-19; Landusky 2-17; Dover 3-39.

If football is all about getting better each week, as Steamboat Springs High School coach Aaron Finch always says, then the lessons learned at Delta last week carry an especially important note tonight.

Steamboat (2-0 overall, 1-0 in the Western Slope League), welcomes Montezuma-Cortez (0-2, 0-0) for a 7 p.m. game today at Gardner Field.

It's no secret where the Panthers have finished in previous years. Thanks to inconsistent numbers, multiple coaching changes and an ineffective program, Montezuma-Cortez has taken residence in the bottom of the league standings for years. But against Delta - a team that has finished in the middle of the pack for years - last week, Steamboat found out how combative the Western Slope League actually can be.

Delta scared a Steamboat team that has notions of playing until December. Delta outgained Steamboat, 385 yards to 239, and kept things close for most of the game until the Sailors pulled away for a 36-27 win.

The lessons, however, shine light on football in the Western Slope. The league appears as open as it has been in the past four years. Sure, the teams always at the top - Steamboat, Palisade and Glenwood - are still good, but the teams that have been near the middle or bottom appear to be closing the gap.

"The league is looking really interesting this year," Finch said. "Teams that have traditionally struggled and not been as competitive are all better. We saw that in Delta. They were a middle-of-the-pack team, but with the same athletes and a new coaching staff, they played a much better brand of football. It's the same thing with Cortez."

Panthers coach Chuck Cotter returns for his second season. The team relies heavily on the play of senior quarterback Breen McComb and the versatility of running back Keenan Garcia. Montezuma-Cortez runs most of its offense out of a bunch formation, moving Garcia around to get the ball in his hands as much as possible.

"It makes sense, because he is a very good talent," Finch said. "He's quick, runs hard and has good vision. It's a good offense."

That could be a challenge for a Steamboat defense that at times looked dominant last week, but at other times, struggled.

Delta gained 202 of its 385 yards on just six plays.

"Our open-field tackling has to get better," senior linebacker Cody Harris said. "We have to break down our hips and stay on their outside. We need to win and keep on getting better. That's all you can ask for is just to get better every week."

With a recent bout of flu that's run through the high school, Finch said he wasn't totally sure who would be able to suit up for the game.

Regardless, in the third week of the season, he said he expects to see a much more refined team heading into tonight's tilt.

"We're ready to get going," Finch said. "It's nice to be playing at home and get the rhythm of the season going."

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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