Hornets’ run game stings Steamboat
PUEBLO — The bracket gods didn’t do the Steamboat Springs High School football team any favors pitting them against Pueblo County, precisely the type of squad that gives the sailors fits.
The Hornets overpowered Steamboat with brute size and strength, running away early and cruising to a 45-21 win Saturday in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs at Hornets Stadium.
“They’re the kind of team that we know we struggle with. They’re a lot like Palisade in our league,” Sailors coach Aaron Finch said. “What you saw was the character of our team. We’re just not a real big, physical football team.”
Pueblo County (8-3) advances to face Mountain View (10-1), a 45-27 winner over Pueblo East, in the second round.
Saturday’s physical mismatch was painfully evident in the numbers. Pueblo County rushed for 431 yards on 64 pounding carries and held the Sailors (8-3) to negative-19 yards on the ground.
It was also open season on highly regarded Steamboat quarterback Austin Hinder. The Hornets got after the 6-foot-5 junior all day, harassing him into completing only nine of his 26 passes and sacking him three times.
“I made plenty of mistakes. We all made mistakes that should not have been made and it should have been a lot closer game,” Hinder said. “When you get overpowered and they blitz like that, it’s kind of hard to pick up.”
Pueblo County’s Marshall Stout, who rushed for 192 yards, scored the game’s first three touchdowns before Steamboat’s Eric Bonner returned a fumble 33 yards to make it 21-7. But the Sailors immediately gave up a 93-yard kickoff return to give the points right back before halftime.
Jack Spady took a Hinder pass 68 yards for a third-quarter touchdown, but the Hornets were grinding away and chewing up the second-half clock. Pueblo County ran 37 second-half plays to only 16 for Steamboat.
The Hornets added two more scoring runs before Fraser Egan’s 7-yard touchdown with 3:25 to play finalized the scoring.
“Our speed wasn’t quite enough to create the separation we needed play after play to sustain drives,” Finch said.
“Against a good football team like Pueblo County, it’s hard to get enough big plays to get it done.”
Hinder, who will return for his senior season next year, is intent on not letting something like Saturday’s game happen again.
“It’s going to be essential to get bigger and stronger for next season,” Hinder said.