Their own opponent

Football team's mistakes have been toughest challenge

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There are three boards hanging on the wall in the Moffat County football locker room. Each board contains goals for each game, one board for offense, one for defense and one for special teams.

If a goal is reached, it is circled with green, and if it isn't reached, it is circled with red. After outscoring their first two opponents, 74-7, there are a lot of green circles for the Bulldogs. But two red circles that stick out are turnovers and penalties, both of which have kept the Bulldogs from performing completely to their expectations the first two weeks.

"Those are both categories that show we have a lot of players at new positions," defensive coordinator Lance Scranton said. " Some early injuries have put guys in places they aren't used to, and they're still learning."

Senior Peter Bacich is one of the guys who made an early season adjustment. He moved from slot back to the line after a season-ending injury to a projected starter happened in the second week of practice. He may be the only offensive lineman in the Western Slope League who also returns kicks.

"When you first change, you're thinking a lot about everything," he said. "(Playing well) is a lot about focus, and when you are thinking about so many new things, it's hard to keep that focus."

The senior said that after two weeks, things are starting to come easier.

"Against Battle Mountain, I was a lot more relaxed and didn't have to think about the small things as much," he said. "It was a lot easier mentally."

Moffat's early schedule has afforded the team some room for mental errors.

Against a smaller Rawlins, Wyo., team, the Bulldogs turned the ball over six times, but only one of those resulted in a penalty.

Against perennial Western Slope League doormat Battle Mountain, the boys in blue committed 13 penalties for 125 yards. The actual yardage works out to be even more because penalties negated plays of 27, 25, 18 and 13 yards. Penalties also took away three touchdowns. Yet the defense allowed only four first downs and kept the Huskies from taking advantage of those penalties.

"We focused a lot on going 100 percent the entire (Battle Mountain) game, and our guys did a great job with that," head coach Kip Hafey said. "But sometimes when going 100 percent, you don't think and make mistakes."

Bacich said he saw a lot of emotion and excitement against the Huskies, but "when they get too excited, they go out there and just want to hit somebody. At times, we're not hitting them when or where we are supposed to."

Hafey plans to take a week-by-week and step-by-step approach to improve.

The first week, there was too much standing around during the game. The second week, there was no standing around but maybe too much energy caused some false starts and blocking in the back penalties. This week, the keyword is control.

"Last week, we got them to go 100 percent, and there was a lot of that on the game film," he said. "Now, this week, we have to know when to have control."

There are now only two undefeated teams in the Western Slope League, and they both have Bulldog mascots. The No. 1 ranked Palisade Bulldogs worked Steamboat Springs, 29-0, on Friday. Moffat is ranked as high as fourth in the state after the recent polls came out Monday.

This week, Moffat County travels to Gypsum to face Eagle Valley, who lost to Rifle, 7-6.

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