Sailors drown Bears, 19-8
RIFLE – All losses, no matter how they are looked at, come down to assessing the good with the bad.While the scale swayed the wrong way for Rifle on the scoreboard in their 19-8 defeat to Steamboat Springs, there were still enough on the plus side to take some of the sting out of the defeat.”We definitely didn’t play as well as we could have. Our kids will admit that, too,” said Bears head coach Damon Wells. “But, there were some bright spots.”Possibly the brightest was the success of Rifle’s passing game.Given the opportunity to throw, Derek Fruetel had a strong night. His 8-yard pass to a diving Nick Alderson in the end zone in the second quarter, along with Alderson’s two-point conversion run gave Rifle an 8-7 lead.Along with the touchdown pass, Fruetel was 9-of-15 for 78 yards.”I think we proved our ability to throw the ball now, so that’s good,” Wells said. “I said before to people, we threw the ball for 1,500 yards last year. We didn’t forget how over a six month period to throw the ball. We’re going to do what we think we need to do to be successful.”Unfortunately, for the Bears, they couldn’t find a method to stop Steamboat’s two-pronged offensive attack of Tanner Stillwell and Jay Hanley.Hanley rushed for a game-high 112 yards on 25 carriers, including a 60-yard tackle-breaking run in the third quarter, which put Steamboat up for good.”It was just Jay running hard,” Stillwell said of the play. “We ask him to run hard every game, every play and he does it for us.”So does Stillwell. The Steamboat quarterback connected on TD passes of 9 and 14 yards for the Sailors other two scores. Both TDs came from Stillwell’s ability to wait in the pocket, then shuck off potential tacklers.The 9-yard score to tight end Jeff Dawes at the end of the first quarter, culminated a nine-play, 85-yard drive where the quarterback moved the drive along with first-down passes of 18 and 29 yards plus a 15-yard gain on a keeper on third down at Steamboat’s 44-yard line.Stillwell’s passing arm played a bigger role in Steamboat’s third touchdown. Prior to finding receiver Aaron Hornstein in the back of the end zone from 14 yards out, a screen pass to Hanley gained 29 yards, moving the Sailors from the Bears’ 43 to the 14.The loss drops the Bears to 6-1 in conference play and into second place in the WSC heading into next week’s regular-season finale at Moffat County. Steamboat, with the same conference record vaults into first with the win.Should both teams come out with victories next week, both open the Class 3A state playoffs at home.
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Amid hundreds of cleat-footed little leaguers casually gathered along the first baseline, the glare of parents’ sunglasses deflecting the early morning sun, coach Troy Phillips began a trip down memory lane.