Luke Graham: Enough with all the coach-speak

Luke Graham

Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Luke here.

— Football lends itself to predictions. While coaches preach "one day at a time, one week at a time," it's always more fun to look ahead.

I'm here to water out the coach-speak.

I know this is the most chemistry Team X has had for a long time. I know Team Y is getting better and better. I know Team Z can't overlook anyone.

But what I really want to know is who's in the playoffs and who's not. I even want to think about potential playoff matchups.

So I'll do Hayden coach Shawn Baumgartner, Steamboat coach Aaron Finch and Soroco coach David Bruner a favor.

Steamboat (2-2 overall 1-1 in league play) has six league games left and needs four more wins for a reasonable shot at making the playoffs. With games against Moffat County, Delta, Cortez, Glenwood Springs, Rifle and Battle Mountain, it shouldn't be hard to find four wins in there.

While Moffat County-Steamboat is never an easy pick, the Bulldogs have struggled with back-to-back losses against conference foes. Add to that their top offensive threat, J.T. Haddan, is out for the year with a knee injury. I'll chalk up this year's game as a Steamboat win.

Steamboat also has a great chance for wins against Delta, Cortez and Battle Mountain; the trio is a combined 3-9 on the season.

That gives the Sailors five wins in the league with playoff-positioning games against Glenwood and Rifle.

Glenwood and Palisade have clearly taken the top spots in the league, with Glenwood dominating Rifle, 42-0, Friday night.

If Steamboat can split those two - with a win against Rifle most likely - Steamboat goes into the playoffs as the No. 3 seed from the Western Slope League.

If that isn't good enough, Steamboat will play Centaurus in the opening round of the playoffs in Lafayette.

At Hayden and Soroco, things get a little more interesting. Soroco probably won't make the playoffs, but the Rams could pull off victories against Rangely and Paonia as the season winds down.

Hayden is in a dogfight to get one of the two automatic playoff bids from the league.

Hayden's playoff fate may come down to the Oct. 12 game at Grand Valley. Grand Valley is the top team in the league right now. West Grand should make a push, but if Hayden can get a victory against Grand Valley, the Tigers will make the playoffs.

In the first round, Hayden will be the No. 9 seed and have to travel to Holyoke.

Of course, before any of the above scenarios can happen, the Sailors, Rams and Tigers have to just take it one game at a time, one week at a time.

Can you beat me at picking weekly football games? Probably. Through two weeks of action, I was 9-11 and in last place. But I need more competition in our Friday "This Week's Football Picks." If you're interested (who wouldn't be? Beat our staff picks and you'll get a $20 gift certificate to The Tap House), call or e-mail me.

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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