Friday, November 10, 2000
Lakewood On a chilly night in Lakewood, the Steamboat Sailors football team was toppled by the Conifer Lobos 17-7 in a 3A state playoff game at Trailblazer Stadium.
The Lobos, who are in the New Jefferson County League, were led by a solid defense that held the Sailors to just 184 yards.
Stewart Beall, who rushed for more than 1,100 yards during the regular season, managed just 51 yards on 12 carries. Rusty Eck, who threw for more than 900 yards on the year, finished the game with 92.
Steamboat's defense played aggressively, but the Lobos took advantage on special teams as they garnered 128 yards on returns. Adam Curtis outraced the Sailors' kickoff team at the start of the second half for a 91-yard touchdown burst, and Jeff Strickland had a 30-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter.
Steamboat never recovered from Curtis' score and Conifer kicker Bryan Boatman nailed a 27-yard field goal in the third quarter that sealed the win.
The game was tied 7-7 after Beall took a handoff up the middle and scored on a five-yard run with 2:49 remaining in the half. But Beall's score turned out to be Steamboat's only touchdown.
Defensively, Blake Julian and JoJo Bucci led the Sailors with six tackles each. Bucci, Wes Adams, Gaspar Perricone and Tony Haight recorded sacks.
Mistakes were crucial for Steamboat, which was flagged seven times for 55 yards. But the biggest disappointment for the team had to be its inability to muster a ground game. On 31 carries, the Sailors had only 92 yards.
Eck was forced to pass more than he would have liked during the contest. He finished on 7-20 passing.
Budzien, who threw for nearly 1,600 yards during the regular season, said the Sailors were better than the final score might have indicated.
"They're tough; they're a real tough team," Budzien said. "They're probably the best team we played all year.
"Luckily, we got home-field advantage and we got, what is considered to us, good playing conditions. I thought it was a great game."
Conifer, who moves on to play in the quarterfinals next week, improved its overall record to 10-1. Steamboat, which was eliminated, finished the year at 8-3.
Steamboat boasted some impressive numbers this year, though, including an offense that averaged more than 44 points per game during the regular season.
The 2000 Sailors were the first Steamboat football team to reach the playoffs in three years.
Kyle Svendsen, who ended his senior season with 220 yards receiving, said he was proud his team accomplished making it to the state tournament.
"Being in the playoffs, that's a huge goal there," Svendsen said. "It says a lot about your team and where you're from. We were one of the smallest teams in 3A to make the playoffs, so it shows that we got a lot of heart. We were a good team this year."