Anchors aweigh

Bulldogs hope to sink Sailors today

It's been a season of tests for the Bulldog football team, and today, the answers will be no different.

"You definitely don't have to worry about intensity this week," Bulldog head coach Kip Hafey said. "We need to focus and not think about the outside distractions."

With homecoming week coming to a close, for many players, it is the most emotional game of the season.

"With the rivalry being just 40 miles away, the emotions are there," said Aaron Finch, Steamboat Springs head coach.

The Sailors are ranked No. 4 in league standings, and Moffat County is ranked No. 8, but both teams will be battling for Yampa Valley pride tonight at Moffat County High School.

The Sailors are coming off a bye week and have had time to rest and heal up before the big game.

"Bye weeks are always tough to work through," Finch said. "We're focused on the fundamentals."

Finch's team is still reeling from a 16-6 loss to Eagle Valley on Sept. 15.

"Really what this game will come down to is that it's a good rivalry game," Finch said.

Hafey agrees and said it's going to be fun.

"It always is with us and Steamboat," Hafey said. "This is a special game for the kids, and this is what athletics and sports is all about."

After turning things around against Eagle Valley last week, the Bulldogs have shown steady improvement.

"We had a really good practice on Monday," Hafey said. "We're going to be psyched up, but we have to stay under control and keep that emotion under control."

The big key for the Bulldogs will be keeping their hands on the ball.

"We don't want to give away the ball," Hafey said. "We keep getting takeaways. We want to keep their offense off the field."

The reason Hafey has for keeping the Sailors offense on the bench is simple.

"They're dangerous and capable of big plays anytime," Hafey said.

The Sailors have amassed 873 yards of total offense this season, 515 of them in the air.

"We're having a hard time running the football," Finch said. "It'd be nice to be able to run it and throw it -- put those pieces together."

Sailors quarterback Tanner Stillwell has thrown 44 completions on 77 attempts for 495 yards. On the flip side, the Bulldogs have tallied just 245 total yards of passing, with quarterback Andrew Drake completing 18 passes on 42 attempts for 217 yards.

The big difference between the two teams lies in turnovers -- the Bulldogs have dropped the ball 16 times and recovered nine. The Sailors have dropped the ball five times and recovered twice.

"If one team has a lot of turnovers, it will be a key to the game," Finch said. "We've done a good job of taking care of the ball."

The Bulldogs have a leg up on the Sailors by outscoring opponents in each of the first three quarters thus far this season. Moffat County has totaled 69 points to Steamboat's 49.

The Bulldogs also have rushed for 854 yards on 218 carries and have a total amassed yardage of 1,099.

"Moffat is a typical large, strong football team, more so this year than the last couple," Finch said. "They're very patient."

Hafey knows his team has patience, but what he wants them to do is finish drives.

"Our offense has to help sustain drives," Hafey said. "And we have to have a good defensive game."

Hafey said that his team has improved each week and that they are going in the right direction.

"Hopefully, we'll rise to the occasion," Hafey said.

The Bulldogs and Sailors kick off at 7 p.m. today at Moffat County High School.

Moffat County offense

Field position, turnovers and time of possession. If the Bulldogs want to pull this one out, they have to hold onto the ball, finish drives and be patient.

Steamboat Springs offense After a bye week, coming out strong and solid will be the key for Steamboat. Continued success at the passing game and receivers who can catch.

Moffat County defense Stop the big play. The Bulldogs will have to contain the Sailors' passing game if they hope to win. Tanner Stillwell is a huge offensive threat in the pocket.

Steamboat Springs defense The linebackers will have to be quick and fill the gaps, the Bulldogs like to pound the ball up the middle but have running backs capable of making moves to the outside.

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