The itinerary for the Moffat County High School Saturday reads as follows:
8:30 a.m. Breakfast at hotel
9:45 a.m. Depart for Pueblo
11 a.m. Arrive at Pueblo County High School
1p.m. Beat Pueblo County High School
Short, simple and to the point for the Bulldogs (6-4), who enter the state playoffs as the 11th seed against the fourth-seeded Pueblo County Hornets (9-1).
"We've played against the odds all season and we'll keep doing the same," said head coach Kip Hafey. "This will be a good game for Bulldog fans to come watch because I guarantee a win."
If Thursday's practice was any indication, the MoCo team is ready for its first play-off game in four seasons. In a practice in which the players were wearing only their upper pads, the coaches almost had to have them back down.
"They were attacking each other out there tonight," said defensive coordinator Lance Scranton. "I kept looking at coach Hafey and thinking, 'They're going to kill each other if we don't tell them to back down.'"
The Bulldogs left at 7 a.m. Friday for Colorado Springs where they will practice and watch the Lewis-Palmer/Ralston Valley 4A play-off game the day before their game.
The Bulldogs bring a defense that held Palisade Class 3A's top-ranked attack 15 points below its average. On the flip side, the offense has struggled to hold on to the ball in games that counted this season with at least five turnovers in each game against the other big three Palisade, Rifle and Steamboat Springs in the Western
"We have to hold on to the ball on offense," Hafey said. "That will be the only way we win."
Scranton said from what he saw on the tape from the Hornets is
that they were the team that
made the fewest mistakes of this season.
"In a couple of the games we watched, they might have been out-played but they made the fewest mistakes and were able to win," he said. "They are a disciplined team and that's how they got to 9-1 in a tough conference."
Pueblo County finished second in the Southern Conference behind Florence. The conference boasts the last two state champions Alamosa in '01 and Canon City in '00 and has five teams
in the playoffs.
"The talk has been about how tough their conference is,"
Hafey said. "But we've had three teams ranked in the top 10 all season, too."
The Hornets survived through the perennial-powerhouse conference with a balanced attack on offense. At the helm of the squad that averages 28.7 points per game is 6'5" junior quarterback Kory Sperry. The QB's primary target this season has been senior Roger Martinez, who led the Southern Conference with 29 receptions. Out of the backfield, the Bulldogs are up against Darrell Fisher (115 carries/651 yards) and Bobby Powers (60/423).
"They're similar to Steamboat in that they are balanced and they don't bring a lot of different formations." Scranton said. "I think we match up pretty well against them."
Unlike the Bulldogs, the Hornets have play-off experience as they lost in the first round last season, 17-7, to Fort Morgan. The 7-3 Hornets of last year returned key players this year on their way to an improved 9-1.
"It's the playoffs and you have to throw the records out the window," Hafey said. "We'll be ready and we're bringing something that Pueblo County hasn't experienced yet this season."
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.