In winning four of its last five games, the Moffat County High School football team continues to gain confidence in the new system and make its coaching staff look smart. In fact, in the team's 47-0 win over Montezuma-Cortez they made head coach Kip Hafey look like a psychic.
Early in the second quarter, Hafey turned and said, "This next play will be a touchdown." Moments later, junior quarterback Aaron Sanchez connected with junior Cody Palmer for a 36-yard touchdown pass.
"Sometimes when you are executing well, you can see potential plays that will work," Hafey said. "We executed and it made me look smart."
The Bulldogs were able to execute according to game plan most of the night in their win over the Panthers. For the second straight game, MoCo had touchdowns from all three teams, with five scores coming from the offense and one apiece from special teams and the defense.
"They just whooped us," said Cortez coach Tom Adair. "I think we may have underestimated how good they looked on tape."
Adair and his team were given a preview to the long night ahead on the Panther's first drive. The Bulldog defense stopped them on three plays and then a pack led by junior linebacker Jason Mosher blocked the Panthers' punt. The blocked punt gave the MoCo offense a short field and less than a minute later senior Eric Bastow punched it in on a 3-yard run.
"In practice, we talked about jumping out early on them," said junior safety Shea Carr. "We came out and did our job on defense and the O did what they had to do to put the ball in the end zone."
A big part of the "O" in the first half came from the Sanchez-to-Palmer combo, as they connected for touchdowns within two minutes of each other to break the game open, 19-0, early in the second quarter. For Palmer it was his fourth touchdown in the last three home games.
"Cody has been big for us the last three home games," Hafey said. "Overall though, our passing was effective with five receivers making catches in the game."
With the help of the big pass plays to Palmer and the running of Bastow and Sanchez, most of the damage was done in the first half as the Bulldogs compiled 201 yards on offense with four scores. Combined with the defense allowing one first down and a total of 26 yards in the half, the Bulldogs went into the locker room with a 26-0 lead.
Nothing changed after the teams came out of the locker rooms as Bastow returned a kick off for 70 yards on the first play in the second half.
"I told them it could be our only kick off return of the game and to make it a good one," Hafey said. "They did exactly that."
The second half allowed some of the younger Bulldogs playing time as well as an older Bulldog to get his name in the stat book.
With 6:30 left in the third quarter, senior offensive lineman Trevor Sloan was waiting for the play to be called when his back up came in and told him he was now a running back. Sloan lined up in the backfield and had the ball handed to him two plays in a row. The first run went for four yards, the second went for a 1-yard touchdown.
"After they called my number, the running backs were telling me how to hold the ball and how to run," he said. "I just grabbed it, lowered my shoulders and ran."
The Bulldogs know that the next two games won't allow time for the second team to get experience in the second half or for experiments with an offensive lineman at running back.
The games against the lower teams in the Western Slope Conference Glenwood Springs, Delta and Cortez are over for the Bulldogs. The final two contests happen on the road and against top contenders, Steamboat Springs and Palisade.
A win against either team
should put the Bulldogs in the playoffs.
"We're playing with so much confidence right now," Sloan said. "If we can keep it up we'll make the playoffs and win some games in there, too."
The Bulldogs, who improved to 5-3 and 3-1 in the conference, point to their only loss in the conference as the biggest game for them this season thus far.
"We learned a lot about ourselves against Rifle," Hafey said. "When we outplayed the top-ranked team in the state the second half, that is when we learned we could play."
The Bulldogs' first chance at a playoff spot will be in Steamboat Friday. A game both teams see as a must win.
"I told them tonight that the playoffs were possible only if we beat Steamboat," Hafey said. "So that's what we've got our sights set on."
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org