In Kip Hafey's four years as Moffat County head football coach, he's never had a team face playoff elimination so early in the season.
That could work to his advantage.
After a 24-23 loss to Steamboat Springs on Friday, Hafey can use the sense of urgency to motivate his players.
"We have to win four of our last five games," Hafey said. "The kids know what has to be done, and we can have no more slip-ups. We have to pass every test."
Although much improved from their 27-19 loss against Eagle Valley the previous week, the Bulldogs couldn't pull out the win against their rivals. The loss put the Bulldogs at 1-2, and history in the Western Slope League shows that Hafey is right. The Bulldogs have to go at least 4-1 because no team in the league has made the playoffs with more than three league losses during the past four seasons.
"The Steamboat line was bigger than Eagle Valley, but we did better," senior lineman Brandon Vigil said. "But the line still needs to do much better for us to make the playoffs."In general, the team needs to do better on offense on third and fourth down. Moffat was 2-11 from third down against Steamboat. It was 3-9 on fourth down against Eagle Valley. That could mean one of two things: the team offense isn't gaining enough yards on first and second down, which leaves a lot of third- and fourth-and-longs; or the push necessary for the short yardage isn't happening.
"We have to win the battle in the trenches more," Hafey said. "We can't be getting stopped on third and fourth down like we have been."
The Bulldogs will play their fifth game of the season Friday against Delta. If the team was inexperienced going into the season, those without experience can't make that excuse anymore.
"Everybody has had enough time to know what they're doing," linebacker Korey Kos-tur said. "(No experience) isn't an excuse."
As for the rest of the season, the Bulldogs currently sit on the outside looking in for the playoff picture. Four teams have more wins (at least two) than Moffat County. Of those teams the Bulldogs still have matchups against Palisade and Rifle.
"If we get beat from this point on, it won't be because of not being prepared," Hafey said. "It will because of one of two things: turnovers, or we just got beat by a better team."
The rest of the season, the Boys in Blue will be working to make sure they are the better team."