Alexis Len hits the ball during practice Wednesday. The Steamboat Springs High School volleyball team plays Thursday against Battle Mountain in its final regular-season game.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Alexis Len hits the ball during practice Wednesday. The Steamboat Springs High School volleyball team plays Thursday against Battle Mountain in its final regular-season game.

Routt County prep sports weekend preview for Oct. 24

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— The season is ending quickly for area fall sports teams. The Hayden football and volleyball squads, the Soroco volleyball team and the Steamboat soccer, cross-country and tennis teams have wrapped up competition. Now, the teams still battling face a weekend of tall tasks.

Steamboat Springs volleyball

6:30 p.m. Thursday: Steamboat (13-7) at Battle Mountain (18-1)

Steamboat Springs High School coach Wendy Hall said the Sailors have a good chance of being one of the 36 teams selected for next week’s regional tournaments, currently slotted 26th. A win Thursday against Battle Mountain, however, could vault the squad up the rankings. Quite frankly, even a good performance in a loss against one of the state’s elite teams could give Steamboat a bump before it ships off to whatever three-team regional tournament it is assigned.

“The last time we didn’t look scared or intimidated. We had a chance to take a set from them, but we couldn’t close the deal,” Hall said. “We need to go in playing hard and putting our best effort out on the floor. That’s the only thing we have control over.

“I feel like we’ll be OK if we go down there and compete hard.”

Steamboat Springs football

2 p.m. Saturday: Steamboat (4-4) vs. Lutheran (6-2) at Sports Authority Field in Denver

The good news is the Steamboat Springs High School football team is through most of the difficult part of its schedule. The bad news is the word “most” is a key part of that first sentence. Saturday’s opponent, Lutheran, isn’t ranked, like the Sailors' previous two opponents. It’s only receiving votes in The Denver Post’s Class 3A football poll.

Both Steamboat and Lutheran beat their only common opponent, Summit, with Steamboat prevailing, 37-32, and Lutheran winning, 48-2. The Lions have beat up the opposition this season with a combined arms approach. Junior quarterback James Willis averages 192 yards passing per game while the team has gained an average of 188 yards rushing per game.

In its two losses, Lutheran turned the ball over a total of seven times. Leading the turnover battle is a “duh” requirement for winning a football game, but it’s even more important for a team in Steamboat’s position again this week, swinging up at a squad that on paper appears to have a significant edge.

Soroco football

7 p.m. Friday: Soroco (5-2) at Simla (7-0)

About five hours on a bus is the first penalty Soroco must pay for the two-game losing streak that closed out its regular season. The second is a doozy, having to play Black Forest division champion and 7-0 Simla.

The Cubs have played just one close game all season, against Merino, and that was only close after Merino scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns. The team has outscored opponents 352-40, winning by an average of 48 points thanks to a balanced offense and a tough defense. Hayden beat Simla last year in this same cross-divisional round, but the Cubs have been much more effective on all fronts this season.

At its best this season, Soroco had the look of an Eastern Plains team, muscling the ball down the field with a big offensive line and tough-to-tackle running backs. Some of that size and some of the ability disappeared as injuries mounted, but the Rams will need to master that strategy again Saturday if they’re to win and advance to the 16-team playoff bracket.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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