'Four yards and a cloud of dust'

Moffat County High School football team takes ground game to sports camp

GRAND JUNCTION -- Oh, the irony of it all.

Last year's Moffat County football team went into the Mesa State College summer team camp with the plan to throw the ball more than it had since head coach Kip Hafey took over four years ago. The team then struggled in the camp's 7-on-7 competitions, which are drills that allow passing teams to dominate.

This year's team has the unofficial of theme of "four yards and a cloud of dust," which means the plan is to run the ball down opponents' throats. But the running-oriented Bulldogs were 8-1 in 7-on-7.

"Andrew Drake has worked hard to improve his passing, and that has helped," Hafey said. "We've caught the ball, and we've executed routes well."

Drake, who is expected to be the starting quarterback, acknowledged that his team is going to be run-oriented but, "we can't be one-dimensional, so I have to be able to pass every once in a while."

Drake was the starting tailback for the Bulldogs last year. Without an established backup from last year, the coaches talked to Drake about making a position change.

With a former tailback now behind center, the Bulldog attack will have more of an option-running approach this year.

"We don't have the speed we've had in past years," Hafey said. "We have decent size on the line and good size in our running backs, so we're going to have a power running game this year."

The success of that running game will depend on the capabilities of the offensive line to move defenders off the ball. Blake Kawcak is the center of that line and the most experienced with three years on varsity.

This week at the football camp, the senior center did a lot of teaching because only one other lineman at the camp played on varsity last year.

"These guys are learning fast," Kawcak said. "At the beginning of the camp, they didn't even know where to go, and now we're moving as a unit."

Drake said he was impressed by his line.

"I'll hand the ball off, and when I turn around, the line is already five yards down the field," he said. "That's the best push I've seen."

Hafey said that during the camp, the offense tried to switch it up, and every time they ran the ball up the middle, they were successful.

He expects the up-the-middle runs to be the team's strongest assets.

"We look at the strengths of our team and make the adjustments," Hafey said. "We aren't afforded the chances other schools have in our league where they can mold players into what the program needs. We mold the program to our kids."

Hafey was referring to how other teams in the WSL have weightlifting classes specifically for the varsity athletes or football teams. Palisade and Rifle can have the same plan every year because they can produce a certain mold of player by seeing them in the weight room every day.

"We need more consistency in the weight room, and having a class like other schools would be an improvement," he said.

The Bulldogs had a chance to measure themselves against all but two of the WSL teams at the camp. That's because the league coaches decided together that they would all attend the same camp.

"I like this camp because the kids had a lot more individual time," defensive coordinator Lance Scranton said. "A team like ours needs individual time."

They finished up today, and Hafey said he hopes to see his guys in the weight room on a regular basis until August.

"If we're going to pound the ball, we need to be stronger," he said. "I hope we have the dedication to do that the rest of the summer."

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