Parity apparent in today's matchup

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Parity.

It's a word that is used often in sports. It's a word that doesn't make things easy for coaches.

"Coaching hasn't been easy this year in this league," Rifle High School Football coach Darrell Gorham said. "The parity has made it tough every week."

Among the top four teams in the Western Slope's Class 3A football league, Glenwood Springs, Rifle, Palisade and Moffat County there have been five games. Four of those five games were decided by an average of 2.33 points.

"We feel like we were two plays away from being undefeated," Gorham said about his team's 1-point loss to Glenwood and 4-point loss to Palisade. "Moffat has to feel the same way."

Oh, coach Kip Hafey feels that way. He just doesn't want to dwell on it.

"This league is so tough, one play can change a season," he said. "That's why we have to forget about last week. There's so much parity up top one point has been the difference in three games."

There's that word again.

The parity also is visible in the way things could change this week after the Rifle, Moffat game.

If the Bears win they will force a three-way tie for second in the WSL. Glenwood, Moffat County and the Bears will have two losses. If Cortez upsets Palisade today, there would be a four-way tie for second.

If the Bulldogs win, they would secure the second seed, Glenwood would be in third and Rifle would take the fourth and final spot in the playoffs.

Throw all of the parity away. This is near a must-win for both teams.

"We've go to go with everything we've got Friday," Hafey said. "We had a good game against Palisade but we need a great game against Rifle."

Gorham said his players were ready.

"If they could have played tonight they would have," he said Thursday. "They want to prove themselves."

The way both coaches talk, their opponents are more than worthy of their No. 5 (Rifle) and No.4 (Moffat) rankings in the polls.

"Moffat doesn't have any weaknesses," Gorham said.

"Rifle doesn't have a lot of weaknesses up front," Hafey said.

After watching the tape of the game against Palisade, Hafey said his linemen were surprised by what they saw.

"They said that they thought they had a good game until they saw the tape," he said. "They weren't getting to the linebackers. When they got where they were supposed to we had big plays. Scott (Garoutte) was running so well that he made up for some of their missed blocks."

Garoutte had his season's best game against Palisade. His 172 yards were a little less than a third of what he has gained all season. Despite two consecutive games with less than 100 yards, senior Kellan Moore is 112 yards from breaking the 1,000 mark for the Bulldogs.

The Bears have proven to be formidable on the ground as well. They have only submitted stats from five of their seven games to the Rocky Mountain News, but Rocky Rauman's 695 yards averages out to 140 yards a game.

Both quarterback, Moffat's Derek Duran and Rifle's Kyle Sanderson are competing to be the top passers in the league.

"They are very good at quick passes," Hafey said. "Our D-backs need to be ready for that."

"We need to contain Duran," Gorham said. "He can't roll out on us."

The coaches think the details are what will make the difference in tonight's showdown.

"Our special teams need to play well," Hafey said. "Rifle has a good return guy -- I don't know his name -- I think he's number 14."

"We need to wrap up on tackles," Gorham said. "We also need to maintain blocks."

A stat that the Moffat County loyal doesn't want to hear is Rifle's home record against conference foes during the last four years -- undefeated.

Parity hasn't had a role in games in Rifle. The Bears have been dominant.

"We'll throw in a few wrinkles Moffat hasn't seen," Gorham said. "We play well at home so it should be a good one."

Props from the press

n The Moffat County football team was recognized three times this week in the major Denver papers.

Senior Michael Babb was recognized as the Denver Post's male high school student-athlete of the week. To read Babb's answers about aspects of being a student athlete go to www.denverpost. com/Stories/0,1413,36~6421~2473310,00.html

n Neil Devlin of the Post also recognized the Rifle-Moffat County game today as the biggest in the conference and noted that the Western Slope was now the best football conference in Class 3A.

n Marcia Neville gave props to the Bulldogs for their community clean up efforts in her weekly column in the Rocky Mountain News. She wrote: "Plenty of football players claim their teams are family, but at Moffat County the sentiment goes much further. In appreciation for their fan support, the fourth-ranked Bulldogs have implemented a communitywide trash pickup program. Several times a season, coach Kip Hafey sends the entire team on 'litter patrol' after school. Afterward, it's back for a full practice later in the evening."

David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or dpressgrove@craigdailypress.com

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