‘Wild Dogs’ defense clamps down | SteamboatToday.com

‘Wild Dogs’ defense clamps down

Sailors clinch third seed in league with win against Rifle on Friday

Luke Graham

Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs High School's 42-27 win against Rifle on Friday provided a clear demonstration of the development of a football team that came into the year with young players at crucial positions. — Steamboat Springs High School's 42-27 win against Rifle on Friday provided a clear demonstration of the development of a football team that came into the year with young players at crucial positions.

— Steamboat Springs High School’s 42-27 win against Rifle on Friday provided a clear demonstration of the development of a football team that came into the year with young players at crucial positions.

Steamboat coach Aaron Finch concedes the game featured his offense’s best performance of the year. But to know just what type of team this is, Finch said to look no further than the defense.

Playing without top tackler and defensive leader Nigel Hammond, the Steamboat defense clamped down after a first half in which it allowed 287 yards – including 164 yards passing to a team that didn’t throw a pass the previous week. The Sailors limited the Bears to 89 second-half yards, forced three turnovers and held the Rifle offense scoreless.

“Defensively, I know (defensive coordinator Lonn) Clementson wouldn’t say it, but I’m pretty happy,” Finch said. “You get into those track-meet games and you know you need to stop them once more to have a shot, and then in the second half we stop them every time.”

The game was one of the first times Steamboat has used zone coverage. Under Clementson’s 3-5 defense and “Wild Dogs” philosophy, linebackers and defensive backs primarily play man-to-man coverage.

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On Friday, with a young defense learning the intricacies of zone coverage, it took the Sailors only one half to not only understand zone coverage, but to run it successfully.

It’s just another sign, Finch said, of a team that absorbs schemes like a sponge.

“We have a football team that – just think back how much we’ve improved – that individually, as a team and how we play as a team, has continued to improve,” Finch said. “We knew we were young and had a much different football team. But it really played out like we thought it could. It’s a testament to the players. They’re a very coachable bunch, they give great effort at practice and are good to each other.”

The Sailors’ win clinched the third seed out of the Western Slope League – and probably a playoff matchup against a second-place finisher from another league. Finch said Steamboat is approaching the last regular season game against Battle Mountain looking to do what it has done all year.

“We know we’re in the playoffs as the third seed. It’s all about winning games and getting to that last game in December,” Finch said. “It’s us getting better and improving.”

– To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

Season statistics

Western Slope Standings

Glenwood Springs, 9-0 overall, 7-0 in the Western Slope

Palisade, 7-2, 6-1

Steamboat Springs, 6-3, 5-2

Rifle, 5-4, 4-3

Eagle Valley, 6-3, 4-3

Delta, 3-5, 3-4

Moffat County, 3-6, 2-5

Battle Mountain 1-8, 1-6

Cortez 1-9, 0-8

The numbers

First Downs 109

Rushes-Yards 326-1,708

Comp-Att-Int 69-106-6

Yards Passing 1,004

Total Yards 2,712

Punts-Avg. 33-40

Fumbles-lost 27-13

Penalties-Yards 57-449

Score by quarters

Steamboat 65-87-63-44-259

Opponent 49-59-33-60-201

Individual statistics

Rushing

S: Jay Hanley 119-650, 8 TD; Nigel Hammond 37-180, 3 TD; Fraser Egan 21-90; Austin Hinder 90-471, 5 TD; Joe Dover 31-341, 2 TD; Eric Bonner 14-39; Dylan Pivarnik 2-(-1); Alex Wood 3-(-9); Kevin Stokes 3-5; Jack Spady 3-(-33).

Passing

S: Hinder 68-101-4, 993 yards, 15 TD; Wood 1-4-1, 11 yards; Hammond 0-1-1, 0 yards .

Receiving

S: Cody Harris 10-141; Hammond 16-276, 6 TD; Hanley 6-65, 1 TD; Ben DeLine 3-35; Egan 1-4; Matt Lettunich 8-102, 2 TD; Wood 18-310, 5 TD; Cole Krahenbuhl 4-47, 1 TD; Bonner 1-26; Dover 1-22; Hinder 1-11.