Steamboat football steps up in rivalry loss |

Steamboat football steps up in rivalry loss

Steamboat's Austin Ban streaks down the sideline Friday against Moffat County. The Sailors lost, 41-13.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — No team is every happy to lose its senior night rivalry game by four touchdowns, and happy wasn't the word Friday for the Steamboat Springs High School football team after it lost to rival Moffat County, 41-13, for the third year in a row.

But, for a team that's struggled the way the Sailors have for the past season and a half, even one coming off its first win of the season, Friday felt like a bit of progress.

The Sailors won their first game of the season last week, but against as weak an opponent as they're likely to find in Colorado's Class 2A. This week, Steamboat moved the ball against an opponent that, after Friday, has a winning record. It came up with some defensive stops and midway through the game, was legitimately still "in it."

"It did feel like progress," coach Shawn Baumgartner said. "In the first half, that's where we'll see progress form. The way we were able to move the ball and establish a running game, that's something we've been working on and can take from tonight."

The best of that running came from an option game, more effective Friday than it's been all season.

Steamboat stumbled out of the gate, giving up a touchdown to Moffat on a blocked punt early in the first quarter.

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For the first time all season, however, it managed an answer. A big 50-yard pass completion to Tyler Doyne set the stage as quarterback Tanner Raper ran the option, keeping the ball and cutting into the end zone to help tie the game.

"We really got our option game going. That's something we've been working on for a few weeks," Baumgartner said.

The next two drives didn't finish with a score, but they were at least drives, something else that's often been lacking for the Sailors in the first half of the season. Both stalled out inside the 15-yard line, one on a failed attempt to gain a first down on fourth and short and the other on a missed field goal.

If Steamboat comes away with touchdowns on those drives, it potentially goes into half tied with the Bulldogs, 21-21.

"That's part of the learning process, learning to finish," Baumgartner said. "We started to put some drives together, which is good. It is progress, but now the next step is learning to finish and learning to punch it in the end zone. If we do that tonight, it's a different ballgame at halftime."

That momentum did not carry over into the second half and Moffat managed to flex its muscle and put the game away. The Bulldogs' Mikinzie Klimper got that started when he returned a strip sack fumble 65 yards for a touchdown.

Joshua Teeter and Dominic Pascetti also took short runs in for touchdowns in the second half for Moffat.

Steamboat got its final score from Canon Reece, who zipped 25 yards into the end zone late in the fourth quarter.

That play wasn't indicative of the second half for the Sailors. The team wore down in the face of a bruising Bulldog attack. It was, however, indicative of the night. Steamboat lost a game it desperately would have loved to have won against a bitter rival, but Baumgartner said he saw some progress, and that's not something was was going to discount this season.

"We executed well on both sides of the ball in the first half," he said. "Then we wore out."

Next up for Steamboat, 1-6, is a 7 p.m. Friday home game against Aspen, 6-1 this season.