Moffat County High School football players JT Haddan, left, and Eli Buckner took home some hardware Tuesday. Haddan earned the Bulldog Character Award and Buckner was named to the Western Slope all-conference team.

File photo

Moffat County High School football players JT Haddan, left, and Eli Buckner took home some hardware Tuesday. Haddan earned the Bulldog Character Award and Buckner was named to the Western Slope all-conference team.

Handing out the hardware

This season over, next season already under way

— The season is over for the Moffat County football team.

Gone is the August training camp heat, the endless film sessions, the hard-hitting and the buzz from the crowd watching under Friday night lights.

The Bulldogs endured a 3-7 season and a seventh-place finish in the Western Slope League standings.

Tuesday night, however, the losses didn't matter.

There was a different buzz from a crowd of more than 200 who were on hand to watch a different type of film session. One filled with highlights of a football season past. They also came to witness the blue print of next season's squad.

The 2007 team is finished, but the team of 2008 is already at work.

Coach Kip Hafey and the rest of the Moffat County coaching crew handed out the end of the year football awards to the Bulldogs players and used the event as a stepping-stone for next year's squad.

"It was a really great event, especially for the seniors," Hafey said. "We throw this event every year to honor the accomplishments of the team. It gives the fans, the parents and the coaches an opportunity to pay their respects to the kids that put in the hard work all season long."

The event kicked off with the players, their families and the coaching staff sitting down to a buffet style dinner together, as a large family would.

"We break bread together," Hafey said. "We sit down to a meal together, just the football family, and we talk about the past, present and future of the team. The parents have a big part in what we do here, and we like to have their input in this type of thing."

The parents played a big role all season Hafey said, and Tuesday was no exception.

Bulldog mothers and fathers made posters of the seniors, hung balloons from the ceiling, placed Moffat County helmets throughout the auditorium, and showed up in droves to offer support.

"The parents do it up all fancy for these kids," Hafey said. "It's great to have the support from the community, regardless of how many wins and losses we encountered through the season. It shows a lot of respect."

The proceedings moved to the high school auditorium, where defensive coordinator Lance Scranton had displayed a highlight film session of the team.

The Bulldogs and family watched the tackles, touchdowns and celebrations of season gone by.

"It was very cool," Hafey said. "There was music to it, slow motion shots and skits of the players making fun of the coaches. It took us from training camp all the way through the season."

The all-conference team selections were announced, along with those who earned lettermen status, the Bulldog character award and the often over-looked all-state academic team.

Eight Moffat County football players were named to the academic team.

"Education always comes first to us here in the football program," Hafey said. "Us having eight kids on that team shows that. We have smart football players here at Moffat County."

The entire sophomore class was awarded the Bulldog step-up award.

Twelve sophomores stepped into the starting lineup by the end of the season. The award was given to them in the form of Bulldog key chains.

"The key chains inter lock. They are part of a chain," Hafey said. "By them accepting this award, they were committing to the program for two more years."

Hafey stressed the importance of the award stating, "It's not something you give your girlfriend. It shows your dedication to the program."

Hafey said all the sophomores accepted the challenge, displaying the team unity needed for a football program to succeed.

Now that the season is over, the awards have been handed out and commitments have been made, one would think Hafey and company would look forward to some time away from the oblong piece of leather, the hard hits and the Friday night-lights.

Not quite.

"We are already talking about next year," Hafey said. "We are looking at new offensive and defensive schemes, and we are adjusting our depth chart. We don't waste time. We are determined to succeed here at Moffat County."

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