What happened: Brad Ryan scored the first of his two touchdowns on the opening drive for Steamboat, the first drop in what would be a torrent of touchdowns. The Sailors excelled in all aspects of the game, getting both a punt return touchdown from Skyler Kauf and a fumble returned 91 yards for a touchdown by Jimmy Weltzheimer.
What does it mean: Victories via rout two weeks in a row? What is this, 2009? Now the Sailors have the chance to show they’re more than just off the bottom of the heap. They close out the season with a Murderers Row collection of opponents that have a combined record of 19-5. Reaching .500 midway through the season is a great accomplishment for this rebuilt program. Finishing .500 against that lineup could really send the signal that Steamboat is back.
What’s next: Steamboat plays Palisade at home Friday.
What happened: A couple of turnovers may have been the deciders in a game where every possession mattered. Hayden led 21-12 at half and 28-20 after that, but it couldn’t stop a methodical West Grand attack. When working to either extend the lead or eventually to retake it, the Tigers were set back by turnovers.
What does it mean: West Grand is still king of the mountain in Northwest Colorado 8-man football. Hayden, meanwhile, still has plenty to play for. A trip Saturday to South Park should help ease the pain, but the showdown against Vail Christian looming in two weeks will be critical.
What’s next: Hayden travels to play at South Park on Saturday.
What happened: Soroco spread the ball out and found plenty of room to roam for the first time in three weeks. Nic Paxton rushed for 290 yards and threw for another 80 while Ian Palyo ran for 98 yards.
What does it mean: It means relief. Soroco was able to bounce back from two painful losses. The game was a must-win for the Rams, who hope to finish in the top four positions in the division, thus earning a cross-divisional game and a crack at the state playoff bracket.
What’s next: The Rams play at Rangely on Friday.
What happened: Looking at the positive first, senior Alex Feeley continued to put up big numbers, hammering 27 kills in the two matches. From the big-picture perspective, however, last week’s two losses were bad news for the Sailors, in part because they came against two of the league’s weaker teams. Steamboat beat Summit in three games several weeks ago but on Saturday lost to the same team in four.
What does it mean: Steamboat is now 3-5 in the Western Slope League and its chances of making the playoff cut — likely the top three in the league — are shrinking. Six matches remain this season and there’s little remaining margin for error. The team needs to find offensive production from someone other than Feeley.
What’s next: Steamboat plays at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Rifle.
Hayden volleyball (3-12) lost at Plateau Valley, 3-1, at Hotchkiss, 3-2, and at Paonia, 3-0
What happened: The first three matches of a four-match road swing for the Hayden volleyball team didn’t go well.
What does it mean: It was only about 10 days ago that the Tigers were looking as if they turned a corner and had momentum. That momentum is a thing of the past, however, and getting it back Tuesday night against a talented Meeker squad will be an uphill battle.
What’s next: Hayden plays at Meeker on Tuesday.
Soroco volleyball (2-11) beat Vail Christian, 3-1, lost to Vail Mountain, 3-0, and lost to North Park, 3-2
What happened: Coach Kim Reeves said things came together for the much-needed win against Vail Christian. “Stuff is starting to click,” she said. “It was a great game.” She also said the squad played well despite the loss to Vail Mountain, and that only a few miscues kept it from victory against North Park.
What does it mean: Soroco has played better recently, but it finally got to add another actual win to the moral victories the team has accumulated. “We really needed it, that’s for sure,” Reeves said. “Plus, we get to play North Park again, so hopefully we can beat them next time.”
What’s next: The Rams have the week off before playing at home Saturday against Meeker.
What happened: Hanson Buchner scored on a second-half penalty kick to help send the Sailors to a crucial win against Palisade. Alex Alfone put away an insurance goal a few minutes later. Buchner had two goals in the game, and Peter White scored one.
What does it mean: Beating Palisade was pretty sweet. Not only did it flip the score from a 4-2 loss to the Bulldogs earlier this season, it moved the Sailors one step closer to a playoff spot.
What's next: Steamboat plays Moffat County at home Thursday.
What happened: The Sailors qualified all seven entries in the regional tournament for the state tournament and finished second, behind Aspen, in the region.
What does it mean: Regionals are there to choose the players who will head to the state tournament, and in that the Sailors were as successful as they’ve ever been. The second-place finish to Aspen snapped a 14-year winning streak at the tournament, however, so the news Saturday was somewhat bittersweet.
What’s next: The state tennis tournament in Pueblo begins Thursday and runs through Saturday.
Steamboat cross-country at Aspen
What happened: The Sailors ran on a tough, hilly and slow course, but assistant coach Erik Ramstad said the team performed well. Full results were not available as of Monday. “It was a great race,” Ramstad said. “Everyone ran a real solid effort and stuck to their race plans.”
What does it mean: Coaches put the team through its final tough workout of the season Monday as they began molding it for the looming regional and state meets. Now is the time of year to be racing the best, and Ramstad said the squad accomplished just that at Aspen.
What’s next: The team runs Thursday in Rifle.