Sailors, Bulldogs football teams meet in rivalry game | SteamboatToday.com

Sailors, Bulldogs football teams meet in rivalry game

Luke Graham

The Steamboat Springs High School football team gets ready to start practice Thursday night. Steamboat takes on Moffat County High School at 7 p.m. today at Gardner Field in Steamboat.

— Rivalry aside, Moffat County coach Kip Hafey understands the unusual situation his football team is in.

On the heels of playing top-ranked Steamboat Springs at 7 p.m. today at Gardner Field, Hafey knows the Bulldogs might need to win to make the Class 3A playoffs.

But that still might not be enough.

“Realistically we could be 8-2 and be in fourth place in our league,” Hafey said. “You don’t hear that often, but that’s a reality.”

That reality is a tough Western Slope League.

Steamboat, at 7-0 overall and 5-0 in league play, is tied with Glenwood Springs for the league lead. Delta, Palisade and Moffat sit with two league losses, and Delta and Palisade hold the tiebreaker advantage over Moffat.

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But considering that Wild Card points could allow more than three teams from the Western Slope League to make the playoffs, nothing would look better on the Bulldogs’ resume than a win against the Sailors.

“That’s our chance,” Hafey said. “We have to win as many as we can down the stretch.”

For Steamboat, however, the formula is simple. Win today and the Sailors clinch a berth into the playoffs.

That, Steamboat coach Aaron Finch said, is the first thing the team wants to check off its list of lofty preseason goals.

“It’s our opportunity,” Finch said. “It’s the first goal we talk about is to make playoffs. Then you have the opportunity to finish the season on a four-game win streak.”

The two teams couldn’t be more different, though.

Steamboat’s offense always is a threat to score. Last week at Battle Mountain, the team had four first downs and 61 points. Running back Joe Dover had nine carries – two of which he jumped on to recover fumbles – 234 yards and four touchdowns.

It’s that big play threat that has Hafey concerned.

“They’re a tremendously talented team,” he said. “They have some great athletes and a lot of team speed. They have so many weapons with (quarterback Austin) Hinder and Dover, and the list keeps going.”

The best defense for the Bulldogs might be its offense. Moffat runs a variation of the Wing T offense predicated on misdirection. For the Bulldogs to be successful, they have to grind out drives.

But Hafey said it’s not necessarily just winning the time of possession battle. He said the offense does have to grind drives out, but more important, it has to finish those drives.

Moffat has two capable backs in all-league selections Pablo Salcido and Jasen Kettle. The problem for the Bulldogs has been that the two haven’t been healthy on the same field since Week 1.

Hafey said a decision would be made late Thursday about whether Salcido and Kettle could go.

Regardless, Steamboat’s key might be its defense getting the Moffat offense off the field.

Force Moffat into long third downs, limit its plays and get the ball back to the offense, and Steamboat has to like its chances.

“We need to shut them down on their first offensive series,” Steamboat linebacker Michael Savory said. “We need to do that and get our offense on the field.”

2009 SSHS statistics

Steamboat Opponent

93 First Downs 96

165-1,134 Rushes-Yards 251-957

92-149-3 Comp-Att-Int 68-142-13

1,197 Yards Passing 883

2,331 Total Yards 1,840

15-32 Punts-Avg. 24-33

12-4 Fumbles-lost 12-7

48-408 Penalties-Yards 64-550

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Opponent 14-20-21-54-108

Steamboat 78-108-51-54-291

Rushing

Connor Landusky 16-54; Austin Hinder 70-398, 6 TD; Dylan Pivarnik 9-38; Jake Miller 1-(-1); Joe Dover 61-645, 12 TD; Michael Savory 4-11; Evan Hornstein 3-31, 1 TD; Tyler Samlowski 5-18, 1 TD; Jack Verploeg 3-7

Passing

Hinder 86-136-2, 1,123 yards, 15 TD; Miller 1-2-1, 8 yards; Savory 3-10-0, 8 yards; Dover 2-2-0, 49 yards, 1 TD

Receiving

Verploeg 14-114, 1 TD; Jack Spady 33-564, 8 TD; Cody Harris 10-66, 1 TD; Pivarnik 11-156, 4 TD; Bryce Mayo 2-19; Landusky 2-17; Dover 19-232, 2 TD; Sam Robards 1-8; Jackson Coe 1-6

If you go

What: Steamboat football vs. Moffat

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Gardner Field in Steamboat

Tailgate party

The Steamboat Springs High School Spirit Club hosts a tailgate party from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the high school parking lot before the Sailors’ home football game. Free burgers, hot dogs and drinks, sponsored by TIC.