It's Monday after practice and the coaching staff of the Moffat County High School football team is crammed into an office in the varsity locker no bigger than many walk-in closets.
It is obvious that fatigue has set in on the staff with each one red in the face, sweating and either supporting themselves up against the wall or slouched on a couch. Practice ended for the staff in the same painful way it ended for their players, with 20 40-yard dashes.
"Running with them during 20-40s is part of the commitment we decided to make as a coaching staff," first year head coach Kip Hafey said. "It shows them that we are committed to them just like they need to be committed to our program."
Freshmen and defensive back coach Matt Ray expanded on the program that he and his fellow coaches are instilling in the Bulldogs.
"We do everything together as one big unit," he said. "We do the same things in the weight room and the same thing on the field. That way, if the underclassmen see a senior performing well in a game, they know they can do it also because they have prepared the same way."
After nearly three weeks of practice, the players seem to understand what coach Hafey and his other five coaches want to see from the team.
"It basically comes down to one word, 'unity,'" said senior running back Eric Bastow. "That will be the key to our success unity."
Senior offensive lineman Trevor Sloan said the team's focus on unity has created a different atmosphere on and off the field.
"Last year we got on each other a lot if we made a mistake," he said. "This year we know if something doesn't go right, it hurts the team, not our personal reputation."
Beyond the inspirational aspects of the new coaching staff are the differences on the field. The Bulldog staff has decided to "platoon" its players this year, which means that, for the most part, they will only play on one side of the ball. So far, the staff and players like the change.
"Just having to concentrate on one side of the ball is nice," said senior defensive end Alan Horrocks.
"I have no idea how we survived in the past without it," Sloan added.
From the coaching standpoint, "platooning" has several other advantages.
"When one team is on the field coaches can talk to the other team," Hafey said. "It also allows us to scrimmage varsity versus varsity in practice as well as keeping them fresh."
"They aren't overwhelmed with information right away," said running back and quarterback coach Ron Linsacum. "Essentially we have 22 kids starting so we get to have more kids involved."
On the other side are the negatives of platooning with a smaller football team.
"It does hurt our depth a little," Hafey said. "It is very important that we stay healthy and have kids step up."
"If guys go down, we really won't have anybody to replace them," Ray said. "That's why we're teaching them there's no such thing as a starter because they could be in there at any time."
"We realize that we're a little thin in a couple of positions," said senior defensive back Daniel Torgerson.
"It's all right though, we've got Tad as a back up D-back," Bastow jokingly said about senior defensive lineman Tad Behrens.
"That's right, my 5.61 40 is pretty solid for a D-back," Behrens shot back with a smile.
With the joking and camaraderie, the unity among the six seniors seemed to be there.
Beyond the team-togetherness teaching and the rest-friendly platooning are two numerical goals the coaches have set for the team. Each time they run on for practice the 'Dawgs are reminded of 9-5-9 and No. 4 by a board at the entrance of the practice field.
The defense focuses on 9-5-9 as the goal, which means to have nine guys within five yards of the ball 90 percent of the time.
For the offense, number four represents the number of yards they hope to gain each play.
Combining the goals of both sides creates the theme for the '02 Bulldogs "Bone Crusher Attack." The former two words represent the defense and the latter, the offense.
The first non-Bulldog vs. Bulldog action occurred last Saturday in a scrimmage against Montrose. Hafey was happy with his first results.
"Our defense shut them down and our offense had two 80-yard drives," he said. "It is what we expect from this team."
The Bulldogs will take their 9-5-9 and No. 4 Bone Crusher Attack on the road for their first game Friday against the Green River High School Wolves. The Wyoming team was one of three wins for the Bulldogs last year and it will be the third time the teams have met.
"Teams better watch out for the Bulldogs this year," Behrens said.