Routt County prep sports weekend preview for Sept. 26

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Steamboat Springs soccer

6 p.m. Thursday: Steamboat (5-3-1) vs. Rifle (1-6)

10 a.m. Saturday: Steamboat at Centaurus (4-3)

After a frustrating 3-3 draw Tuesday night at Eagle Valley, the Steamboat soccer team will be looking for a feel-good performance at 6 p.m. Thursday at home against Rifle. The Bears look like prime candidates to do some cheering up, too, having only scored two goals this season and having lost their past four games by a combined score of 21-1. It’s an opportunity Steamboat can’t sleep on, however.

Saturday’s game against Centaurus is a chance for a nice road win against a good Front Range squad. Centaurus won four straight before finally slipping up Tuesday.

Steamboat Springs football

11 a.m. Saturday: Steamboat (2-2) at Montezuma-Cortez (1-3)

The Sailors hope to bump their record back up above .500 when they travel to play at Montezuma-Cortez. The chances of that might be good. The Panthers’ only win this season came against a hapless Battle Mountain squad, and the team is coming off back-to-back shutout losses, albeit against two of the top-ranked teams in the state.

Steamboat tore Montezuma-Cortez up a season ago, 47-7, largely through the air, passing for 292 yards and four touchdowns. The Sailors have a different quarterback in sophomore Zach Holm, but they’ve passed the ball well in both of their two wins this season, so they again may have the capability to beat the Panthers through the air. Montezuma-Cortez, meanwhile, ran for 311 yards in its win against Battle Mountain, so Steamboat must shut that down.

Steamboat Springs tennis

8:30 a.m. and noon Saturday: Evergreen and Kent Denver

The tennis squad hasn’t had much of a home schedule this season, but this week gives fans plenty of opportunities to catch the action. Neither Evergreen nor Kent Denver are tops on Steamboat’s target list. Instead, the Sailors are laser focused on the looming regional tournament. Still, the two schools have among the best programs in the state, annually producing state championship contenders. There’s no better place for the Sailors to sharpen their skills and continue to find out exactly where they fall. Coach Don Toy said his team is rounding into shape nicely. Saturday could greatly help that growth process.

Steamboat cross-country

Saturday:Steamboat at Rampart

The Sailors will run in an inaugural event sponsored by Rampart High School. The race staggers participants, sending each team’s No. 7 runner out first, then No. 6, then No. 5 and so on. The best runners in the field will consequently be starting the race behind scores of athletes. They’ll surely do plenty of passing, but how will the elite runners who typically drop the main field early in a race handle picking their way through the pack?

Coach Greg Long said he wasn’t sure, but with two full varsity teams, he and his Sailors are excited to find out. The course should prove one of the flattest to this point in the season, so it also will help runners get a bead on where they’re at.

Soroco football

1 p.m. Saturday: Soroco (4-0) vs. Vail Christian (2-0)

The Rams got a huge monkey off their backs with the win against Hayden, but things won’t get any easier. Vail Christian stifled Soroco a year ago, winning 26-6, but this year’s Rams squad already has shown it has a more dependable offense than it did in 2012. It will need to prove as much again and again this season.

The Saints barely have seen the field this season. A Front Range game was flooded out, and they lost another when the South Park program folded. The team did graduate its two most productive offensive players from that squad, though the fact that Vail scored 52 points in each of its games would suggest it has managed a few replacements.

Soroco volleyball

7 p.m. Thursday: Soroco (0-9) vs. Rangely (4-6)

Soroco may be an 0-9 volleyball team, but it doesn’t always play like one. It pieced together several strong stretches during the past week to nearly win important sets. The squad didn’t show signs of the losing streak weighing on it last week in a game against West Grand, and maintaining that attitude will be key going forward. Coach Jeannie Jo Logan said the squad is improving set to set, game to game. Eventually, that could pay off and the team could turn a corner. A home games against less-than-dominant teams in Rangely and De Beque is as good a time as any to take that step.

Hayden football

7 p.m. Friday: Hayden (2-2) vs. Rangely (2-2)

A solid Rangely team didn’t prove much of a speed bump for Hayden a year ago with the Tigers winning 69-30. But things have changed, and now a win against Rangely would be a big deal for Hayden. The Tigers couldn’t handle Soroco up front a week ago, and that ruined plans on both sides of the ball. That’s where Hayden needs to improve Friday night. Rangely has proven itself capable of running the ball, averaging more than 5 yards per carry through its first four games. Hayden needs to find a way to slow that roll and keep the Panthers from controlling the pace of the game with a steady run game.

On offense, the Tigers have to open lanes and get senior Dan Engle going. He has the speed and strength to be one of the top weapons in the league, but he couldn’t get any traction a week ago, and that was a brutal blow to Hayden’s hopes.

Hayden volleyball

5:30 p.m. Thursday: Hayden (6-3) vs. North Park (3-4)

2 p.m. Saturday: Hayden vs. Rangely (4-6)

The Tigers are beyond a league surprise at this point having already won 50 percent more games than they did last year. Now teams are more aware of what they’ll be getting when they face Hayden: team-wide staunch defense and a powerful offensive attack led by Jordan Temple.

The Tigers beat North Park once already, winning a five-set match on the road Sept. 14. The revenge match should be heated, but if Hayden’s as strong as it's looked at times this season, the goal this weekend — homecoming — against two less-than-elite opponents should be simply to keep things rolling.

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

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