To be the best one has to beat the best.
The Moffat County High School varsity football team will get that chance Friday night when the Rifle Bears come to town for the homecoming game. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at the high school field.
The Bulldogs enter the game with a 2-3 overall record and stand at 1-1 in league play. The Bears are ranked No. 5 in the state in the Denver Post polls. Rifle is 4-1 on the season and a perfect 2-0 in conference.
"Homecoming is always a big game," said Bulldogs coach John Haddan. "We scheduled Rifle on purpose for homecoming knowing that the Bears are going to be tough this year."
A week ago, the Bulldogs fell to the Delta Panthers, 30-0, but Haddan believes his team is ready for the showdown with Rifle.
"The kids bounced back this week during practice," said Haddan. "They know that Rifle is going to be a tough challenge, but they feel that they are more than up to it."
Senior offensive and defensive lineman Matt Johnston believes the Bulldogs can win.
"After watching film the Rifle team is beatable," said Johnston. "They have a few players that can play ball, but we match up with them really well.
"Our offensive lineman need to trust each other. We need to know what to do at all times and not be confused. We need to play hard on both sides of the ball."
Bears coach Darrel Gorham was surprised with the Bulldogs and Panthers score last week.
"I don't know what happened to them (Moffat County) at Delta and that score shocked me," said Gorham. "I thought that it would be a real close game.
"I never would have thought the Panthers are 30 points better than the Bulldogs. Our kids know that sometime those scores really don't indicate how good or bad those teams are. With it being a homecoming game they know the Bulldogs will be fired up."
Last week against the Panthers wide receiver and defensive back Kevin Voorhees, a junior, missed the game because he suffered a mild concussion during practice. Voorhees will be back in the starting lineup this week.
"We should be fairly healthy this week," said Haddan. "Kevin will be back and running back Jeremiah Noland could play on Friday. It would be nice to have Jeremiah play."
The Bears will go into the game short-handed.
"Right now our biggest concern is the amount of injuries that we have," said Gorham. "Last week, we lost our starting slot back and defensive back at Battle Mountain to a broken forearm. He is done for the season.
"We lost our starting quarterback a couple of weeks ago in the Meeker game and we will have our backup quarterback in the game on Friday."
Despite it being homecoming week for the Bulldogs, Haddan believes his team has kept focused.
"This week we have had a few team building activities," said Haddan. "It's kind of helped them keep their heads on football and it has been a good week for them."