STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The first two plays from the Steamboat Springs offense in the second quarter were interceptions. Minutes later, three plays into their most successful drive of the night, freshman quarterback Cade Gedeon threw another one. Each pick resulted in a scoring drive for Glenwood Springs.
A 36-point first half, aided by the INTs, catapulted Glenwood Springs to its most successful game of the year, a 44-0 win over Steamboat on Friday, Nov. 8, at Gardner Field.
“We have six losses all to playoff teams,” Glenwood Springs head coach Patrick Engle said. “(My players) learned to play football along the way. We played some pretty tough teams in the beginning.”
The Sailors strung together a solid drive in the fourth, marching nearly 90 yards. Gedeon ended the day with four interceptions, but still sent the ball soaring to connect for a few big passes in the drive. The home team fell one incomplete pass shy of a touchdown.
“That was our offensive game plan coming in,” Steamboat Springs head coach Shawn Baumgartner said. “Even when we were running the ball, it was still tough. We weren’t getting very many yards. So we trusted to put the ball in Cade’s hands and throw it and let the wide receivers see if they can make the play.”
While Steamboat continued to pass, the Demons only ran. More specifically, they ran downhill and straight through the Sailors defense. Demons junior quarterback Wheatley Nieslanik was lightning fast at the snap, handing off to either sophomore Blake Nieslanik, senior Elliot Walz, or senior Tucker Porter. The three took turns running left, right, and straight up the middle.
“Last week we rushed the ball for almost 500 yards and one pass,” Engle said. “Those boys, they work really hard. In many ways, the credit goes to the offensive line. They’ve really matured as well.”
Blake Nieslanik found the end zone three times in the second stanza. With his team up 8-0, he opened up the second with a 21-yard rush to double the advantage. Four minutes later, he added a 14-yard rush to make it 22-0 with 4:10 left in the frame. A 1-yard burst from Porter completed an interception-induced drive, putting the Demons up 28-0. The conversion failed as Steamboat junior Jackson Beal tackled Glenwood Kelton McPherson.
Glenwood wasn’t done yet, though.
Blake Nieslanik received a pitch from Wheatly Nieslanik at the Steamboat Springs 43-yard line. Breaking a pair of tackles, he dashed uncontested to the end zone for the third time in the quarter.
Porter finished the day with a pair of scores as well. In the third, he caught a 9-yard pass from Wheatley Nieslanik to bring the score to 44-0 and start a running clock.
Coming into the game, both teams had a 3-6 record and a beyond-battered lineup. The injury woes continued through the final contest of the season. Glenwood fans fell somber as senior tight end Sam Fitzwilliams went down on the far sideline in the second with a knee injury, later leaving the field on crutches.
In the third quarter, the Sailors lost senior kicker and running back Jevon Hovey. There were just two seniors on the field who have played the game for years and were healthy all season: linemen John Slowey and Caleb Cuevas.
“It has been really weird,” Cuevas said of the dwindling senior class. “Through the years it’s gotten smaller and smaller. I’m still so glad to play with my teammates.”