Anyone's game

With Steamboat facing off against Moffat County, anything can happen

— At first glance, it might look like the undefeated Sailors' chances are better than good when they face the 2-4 Moffat County Bulldogs Friday night.

But as any longtime Sailors fan will attest to records mean almost nothing when it comes to the final score against Steamboat's No. 1 rivalry.

"Moffat County/Steamboat game, throw out all the records," Sailors coach Mark Drake said. "It's a great rivalry; you can't go on any predictions."

And this year it might be particularly difficult to predict a game that has the 6-0 Sailors matched up against a team with few wins but a stacked schedule with tough preseason opponents and tough league teams.

In the past two weeks, Moffat County has played against two of the top-ranked teams in the Western Slope Conference Rifle and Palisade. Last weekend, the Bulldogs lost just 28-22 to Palisade, a team the Sailors upset 26-19 the week before.

Bulldogs coach John Haddan said his team was in the game but could not recover from two touchdowns made by Palisade's special teams.

"Basically we beat Palisade in every statistical category except for the score," Haddan said. "The kids gave a great effort. It's a tough loss for us."

The Bulldogs' biggest threat coming into Friday's game might not be the Sailors, but the Bulldogs' injuries. Haddan said five to six of his starting lineup might be sidelined with injuries.

The biggest loss to the Bulldogs is Chris Field, the team's first leading rusher, second leading receiver and third leading tackler. During the Rifle game two weeks ago, Field blew out his knee to put a stop to the 299 yards he had rushed for during the season.

Other starters whose injuries might keep them from playing Friday are fullback Parker Moore, offensive lineman Riley Brookshire, wide receiver Drew Morris, center Joe Jacobs and defensive end Trevor Sloan.

Despite the injuries, Hadden said his senior class has stepped up to take charge.

"We have a good group of seniors that are playing harder. When the kids go down, that's who we really look for to give us leadership. They've played well for us," Haddan said.

Steamboat should be ready for a double-wing offense similar to the one it runs, Haddan said. Quarterback Mike Charchalis leads the offense, as he has made gains both on the ground and in the air, rushing for 279 yards and throwing for 398 yards.

On the Bulldogs' mainly 53 defense, John Count tops the team with 46 tackles.

"They have a lot of really fine athletes. Not one individual, they really just have so many fine athletes," Drake said.

Well past the regular season's midway point, the Sailors are also suffering from injuries. Defensive end Scott Middleton will not be dressing, and the position of fullback is still in question.

Tim Higbee, who had filled in for Patrick Rogers out with a broken ankle, will be returning for Friday's game after missing three weeks from concussion injuries. Patrick McMahon, who has started as fullback since the Palisade game, hurt his ankle last week at Battle Mountain. Drake said Friday night might see McMahon and Higbee sharing time at the fullback spot.

To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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