At this point in the season, Derek Carlson is not a big fan of whoever figured out his Western Slope Conference football schedule. For the third consecutive week, Carlson's Delta Panthers go up against a state-ranked team.
"This has been a stretch of tough games for us," he said. "We're feeling it a bit right now."
The Panthers will not start senior quarterback Blake Carlquist, who has thrown for more than 1,200 yards, because of an injury. Instead, sophomore Kyle Clayton will be running the offense.
"We are a bit banged up," he said. "But that doesn't mean we aren't going to work hard for the win."
The Panthers, 1-5 overall and 0-2 in the conference, host Moffat County, 5-1, 2-0, Friday in Delta.
Delta's two losses in the conference were 55-20 to Rifle and 49-14 against Steamboat Springs. Carlson expects Moffat County to be just as tough as the first two opponents.
"I told people that Moffat County was the team that would surprise everybody," he said. "It didn't surprise me that they beat Rifle with all of the kids they have back and with what Kip is doing for the program. Now Moffat County is in the driving seat for the top spot from our conference in the playoffs."
In a season that has been marked by big mistakes at the wrong time, Carlson hopes his team can overcome ill-timed errors.
"We're up against an aggressive defense and solid offense," he said. "Our mistakes have to be limited unlike the early part of the season so far."
While Carlquist is more of a shotgun quarterback, Carlson said his offense is an option-based attack that may be used more with Clayton behind center.
The Bulldogs, who have 16 interceptions this season, are preparing for a spread offense that throws the ball often.
"We need to put more pressure on the quarterback than we did in the Rifle game," Bulldog coach Kip Hafey said. "The Delta offense has scored no less than two touchdowns every game this year so our goal is to stop that trend."
The Bulldogs will go into the game without any major injuries to starters and linebacker Jason Mosher, who led the Bulldogs in tackles the first game of the season, returns from an injury and a one-game suspension.
"We are as healthy as we can be," Hafey said. "It is just a matter of executing."
The Bulldogs will see if they can execute with a kick off at 7 p.m. Friday.