Bears blow out Sailors, stay in WSL title hunt |

Bears blow out Sailors, stay in WSL title hunt

Rifle High School senior Javier Nunez is brought down after a big gain in the first half of Friday night's football game in Steamboat Springs. Rifle won, 50-10.
John F.Russell / Steamboat Pilot & Today |

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The news Friday just kept getting better for the Rifle High School football team.

The Bears, who were the No. 1 Class 3A team as recent as two weeks ago, were coming off a pair of losses of their own doing.

“We’re about six feet from being undefeated,” Rifle coach Damon Wells said.

The team got back to its winning ways on Friday, running away with an easy 50-10 win against an overmatched Steamboat Springs team. And a few moments after the Bears walked off Gardner Field, several hundred miles to the south, Delta beat Palisade, 31-21, keeping the Bears in the race for the Class 3A Western Slope League title.

“I love coaching at a school like Rifle where it’s a big deal if we lose a game,” Wells said.

There wasn’t much doubt on Friday.

The Bears didn’t throw a pass all game and never faced a third down situation in the first half.

Rifle ran the ball 30 times for 465 yards and had made the game a running clock in the first half.

But after struggling with turnovers and penalties the last two weeks though, it started eerily similar.

Rifle fumbled on two of its first three possessions, giving Steamboat an opportunity. And the Sailors, for the second week in a row, went toe-to-toe with a premier 3A program and again entered the second quarter down just 7-0.

“We didn’t capitalize on those turnovers,” Steamboat coach Lonn Clementson said. “They executed one or two offensive plays again and again and our defense could not stop it.”

The Bears finally started to click in the second quarter. Touchdown runs from Bailey Hoffmeister, Javier Nunez and Kellin Leigh put the Bears up 28-0.

Steamboat finally tacked on some points at the end of the first half with a Joe DeLine 38-yard field goal.

But the Bears put it out of reach in the third quarter. Hoffmeister scored from 15 yards out and then recovered a fumble by Bears quarterback Layton Stutsman, who had fumbled the ball on a long run at the Sailors 5-yard line.

Nunez added a late touchdown run in the fourth before Steamboat quarterback Zach Holm scored as time expired for the final result.

For the Bears, it was more of the same, churning out yards on the ground and controlling both line of scrimmages.

“We ran out of three formations and ran three plays all game,” Wells said. “That’s not hyperbole. What we did well is we blocked and tackled.”

For Steamboat, now 4-4 overall and 3-4 in the Western Slope League, it doesn’t get much easier.

The team travels to Lutheran at 7 p.m. next Friday before concluding the season with resurgent Delta.

Rifle has a huge game at 7 p.m. at home next Friday with Delta.

“We knew these last for games would be tough,” Clementson said. “The first two have proved that.”

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