How the West is won? Battle between Sailors, Bulldogs could decide Western Slope Conference title

Palisade is no stranger to the big game.

The Bulldogs’ success has established a trend where every year they seem to have a game that has major Western Slope Conference title implications.

The past two seasons, a loss to Glenwood Springs cost Palisade the league title. The Bulldogs want to break that streak of not winning the league title Friday when they travel to Steamboat Springs to take on the team ranked No. 1 in Class 4A in the MaxPreps/Colorado Coaches Association poll.

“It will be crazy there,” Palisade coach John Arledge said. “We have a target on our back and they want to lay it on us, so they will be up for it.”

Both teams are 3-0 in conference, and are beginning to set themselves apart from the rest of the league.

The Sailors are coming off a 42-12 win over Eagle Valley. Steamboat is led by quarterback Austin Hinder, who has committed to attend the University of California next fall. Hinder doesn’t do it alone, though. Steamboat has solid play makers in running back Joe Dover and wide receiver Jack Spady.

The Bulldogs downed the Sailors 39-14 last season at Stocker Stadium. This fall, Palisade has rolled to three straight WSC wins after dropping its first two games of the year. The Bulldogs are a run-first team that will attempt to chew up the game clock with running backs Jesse Brannon and Sean Dunn and keep Hinder and the Sailors’ offense off the field.

The Bulldogs shared their thoughts about Friday’s game:

“Our best defense will be our offense. If (Hinder) doesn’t touch the ball, that is that many less plays for him to do something with. Offensively we have to hold onto the football.” — Coach John Arledge

“We have to be physical and hit people in the mouth from the get-go and set the tempo. (Hinder’s) got a arm, so if he’s got time to throw, he can throw it anywhere.” — Offensive/defensive lineman Nick Stephanus

“We have to be smart. We can’t jump or hold, and we can’t make any mistakes. We can control the ball on the ground and have to do that.” — Offensive/defensive lineman Nate Stephanus

“It’s exciting, everyone comes out to support their team in Steamboat, so it will be a good atmosphere. If we can win the game there, it will be a lot of momentum for us.” — Offensive lineman Jeremy Brannon

“We have to cut down on mistakes. We’ve had a lot of offsides penalties, so as long as we can cut down on the mental errors, we will be OK.” — Offensive/defensive lineman Zaid Bradfield

“We have to bring it and never let down. This will be a 100 percent physical game, and that’s what we are all about. We have to bring the hat on every play.” — Offensive lineman Zach McLean


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