Bears bury Sailors with devastating ground game
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colorado – In the end, it went as everyone expected.Rifle, so far one of the most untouchable teams in Colorado’s Class 3A, ran all over Steamboat Springs, one of the classification’s worst teams on Friday. The Bears racked up 583 yards of total offense, every single one of them coming on the ground as they stretched the Sailors wide, then punched right through them.It amounted to a 47-12 victory for the Bears, improving Rifle to 6-0 and dropping Steamboat to 0-6.In the midst of that game, both teams came away with plenty to be positive about and plenty to work on.”Not in a million years would we think this was a foregone conclusion. We’re happy we came out winning a league game on the road,” Bears coach Damon Wells said.Rifle sapped Steamboat’s homecoming strength early, and demonstrated that with its versatile running attack, it could score whenever it needed to. Junior tailback Ryan Moeller flew through the line for a 60-yard gain on the first play and speedy senior Brandon Kittle took it the remaining 25 yards on the next play for the Bears’ first touchdown.It was the same story on the second drive, though that time it took Rifle a whooping three plays to go 97 yards, Kittle breaking free for the final 88.Things were dark for Steamboat after Rifle quickly turned a Steamboat fumble into yet another TD.”Our line, our blockers were working hard. We couldn’t ask them to do a better job,” Kittle said. “Steamboat changed their game plan and we had to adjust.”The Sailors could never stop Rifle’s running attack. Moeller finished with 291 yards and three TDs. It was more then around-the-edge yards from Kittle and Taylor Webb that frustrated Steamboat. However, big plays from those backs bailed the Bears out of several early holes.”They’re a better football team than we are right now,” Steamboat coach Lonn Clementson said. “When you give up two easy TDs at the beginning of the game like that, it makes it a real tough climb. I’m proud of the fight in our kids, but we’re just not there yet.”Thanks to those big early plays and a consistent offense, the game was never exactly in reach for Steamboat, but it wasn’t entirely out of reach until late, either.Steamboat quarterback Christian Ramirez excelled passing the ball and the Sailors offense repeatedly chugged down the field. He hit senior Evan Hornstein for a 24-yard TD right down the middle of the defense in the second quarter. That score pulled Steamboat to within shouting distance, 19-6. It seemed things could get interesting on the next drive, but Rifle recovered a ball it let loose and converted two third downs and a fourth down on a drive that made the score 26-6.Steamboat failed to take advantage of a big return on the ensuing kickoff, big Bear hits breaking up two Ramirez passes into the end zone and a third big hit leading to a fourth-down interception.”Our passing game was pretty good and when we had some good blocks we ran it well,” Steamboat junior Ben Custer said. “Christian’s been getting better passing it. It’s really coming along.”Steamboat picked up one more highlight in the third quarter when junior Dylan Wilkinson took a kickoff back 60 yards for a TD, but Rifle’s offense never faltered for long and the game wasn’t close again.”Our kick coverage unit was terrible,” Wells said. “Our pass coverage wasn’t every good, either. We couldn’t get a rush without blitzing, so we need to work on that. “I understand it sounds foolish to say a 35-point win was ever in doubt, but we thought it was.”jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com
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