Turnaround leaves Bulldogs playoff-bound

The 2006 season for the Bulldog football team was one of many struggles. It was overcoming those struggles that has led to a berth in the Class 3A playoffs.

The Bulldogs, the No. 4 seed in the Western Slope League, will travel to Frisco on Saturday to take on undefeated Summit High School.

"The last four weeks, the kids have played their butts off. They have won three out of four like they needed to and got themselves into the playoffs," coach Kip Hafey said.

Behind a three-week blitz of wins, the Bulldogs came out firing Friday night against Rifle, but were unable to mount a sizeable attack, after losing running back J.T. Haddan to an injury at halftime.

"That injury happened in the first quarter," Hafey said. "And we were limited with J.T. going out."

Even with the loss, the Bulldogs spirits remain high going into a week that can and will show the true colors of this underrated team.

"We're really glad we have another chance," senior Klein Nielson said.

A look back

The Bulldogs didn't just get into the playoffs on reputation alone, though they are known as a team that is dangerous year after year.

Staring off the beginning of the season with a win against Rawlins, the Bulldogs had confidence going into week 2 against Battle Mountain, a team that hadn't beat Moffat County in 10 plus years.

That is where the roller coaster ride took a turn. Losing 14-6 against the Huskies, the Bulldogs continuously slipped, week-in and week-out.

A stormy night on Sept. 15 left the Bulldogs with a 1-2 record after losing 28-9 to a tough Palisade team at home.

Regaining some composure the next week at Eagle Valley, the Bulldogs tapped into their potential, beating the Devils 26-6.

With momentum going into week 5, the Bulldogs had a lot riding on the line of the 2006 homecoming game against Steamboat Springs.

The Sailors, with injured running back Jay Hanley returning, lit the Bulldogs up on their home field and sent them spiraling downward in a sea of emotion.

Next came a loss to Front Range team Berthoud. The undefeated Spartans came out to prove a point, and did so with a 48-28 victory.

It was after that loss that the Bulldogs had a change of heart and a change of luck.

Going to Delta for week 7, the Bulldogs knew they had the upper hand. The Panthers were not a strong team, but could pour on points from a solid passing game if need be. The Bulldogs on the other hand, had a size advantage that they used relentlessly to their advantage. The win was the first in their go hard or go home campaign.

Next up was Montezuma-Cortez, a team that had the potential to bite the Bulldogs hard. But Moffat County bit first, clinching a win at home against the unranked and 0-6 Panthers, 34-19.

With two in a row under their belts, and a knack for playing better on the road than at home, the Bulldogs trekked to Glenwood Springs to take on a highly touted sophomore quarterback who had picked other teams apart.

The Bulldogs read him well, and pressured Dakota Stonehouse into throwing three interceptions. The third victory for the Bulldogs was sweet, but their playoff fate still hung on the performance of another team.

As long as Steamboat Springs won Friday, the Bulldogs were secure. What they didn't know was if Battle Mountain would pull off an upset of the Sailors, like they had at the beginning of the season against them.

While the Bulldogs ticked time off the clock against Rifle, the Sailors were busy wrapping up a 39-12 victory against the Huskies, to secure the league title and give the Bulldogs another week of life.

"We have to look ahead now and put the loss to Rifle behind us," senior Blake Kawcak said.

Playoff bracket Class 3A

With the way the season shook down, here is a look at who's playing who and where, this week.

Alamosa (10-0) will host Harrison (6-4); Rifle (7-3) will host Elizabeth (5-5); Berthoud (10-0) will host Florence (8-2); Centaurus (5-5) will host Palisade (7-3); Steamboat Springs (9-1) will host Fort Lupton (6-4); Sterling (9-1) will host Pueblo County (8-2); Englewood (8-2) will host Fredrick (7-3) and Moffat County (5-5) will travel to Summit (10-0).

Games will be played Saturday at their respective sites. Game times are yet to be determined.

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