In defeat, Sailor football team proves its skill | SteamboatToday.com

In defeat, Sailor football team proves its skill

Melinda Mawdsley

Even in defeat, all was not lost for the Steamboat Springs football team Friday night.

Palisade may have overcome a 12-point deficit in the third quarter to win 41-31, but the Bulldogs also finished second in the state last season in Class 3A. And they served as the top-ranked team in the state before losing to Rifle on Sept. 19.

Friday, Palisade showcased its talented offensive and defensive lines and its powerful running game, which make it a likely playoff team again this season.

But it took the best week of practice this season, coupled with five Steamboat turnovers in the second half, for Palisade to have a chance at winning on its home field at Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction.

Had the Sailors recovered Tyler Fosdick’s onside kick with four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Steamboat may have pulled out its own come-from-behind victory.

Steamboat coach Mark Drake and his players want to win as much as the next team. Palisade coach Todd Casebier said it’s likely Steamboat came into Stocker Stadium confident it could beat the Bulldogs.

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The Sailors left with the loss but with the knowledge that they could have won. It is important that Steamboat doesn’t worry about the one league loss. After all, Palisade has one league loss, as well.

“We have to bounce back now,” Drake said. “The kids need to realize we are a good football team. They proved that (Friday). We can’t get down on ourselves.”

Senior lineman Michael Herbert said the loss to Palisade is “nothing” when focusing on the bigger picture of the playoff hunt.

“We need to practice holding onto the football,” he said.

The chance for turnovers increases when a quarterback has 125 passing attempts in five games, including 54 in one game, but Steamboat senior quarterback David May has only three interceptions this season. Unfortunately, two came against Palisade.

Those interceptions were the closest the Bulldogs came to stopping a passing attack they knew was coming.

Casebier said his Palisade team has spent the early part of this season defending the pass, as opponents forsake their running game to attack the Bulldogs’ weaker secondary. Casebier had high praise for the Sailors, considering they gained nearly 400 yards in the air.

“After last week, we knew we had our hands full,” Casebier said. “I know Steamboat came in here expecting to win, and it’s tough to beat a team that confident. This team threw much better than any we’ve seen. Their quarterback makes great decisions.”

In hindsight, Drake said, the Sailors may have thrown too much. During practice in the week leading up to the game against the Bulldogs, the Sailors worked on attacking the perimeter more on the ground.

Friday, it was open, but once Steamboat fell behind in the third quarter, the offense had to resume its quick-strike passing game in an attempt to come back and win.

If anything, the Sailors can look to the Bulldogs for direction on the proper way to respond after a loss. Palisade had its best week of practice and created opportunities to win after falling to Rifle. The Sailors are 4-1 and 1-1 in the league with homecoming week coming up.

Steamboat will play Delta at 7 p.m. Oct. 3 at Gardner Field.

— To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208

or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com