Craig For Moffat County High School sports teams, it's crunch time.
One month before the playoffs begin, it's time to step up for some teams while others look toward positioning.
Let's take a look.
Bri's girls (aptly named after head coach Brianna Montgomery) are in full stride entering the last month of league play. They are by far the hottest team in the Slope. This gritty bunch defeated a larger program - 5A Fruita - and the fourth ranked team in the state, Battle Mountain. The Bulldogs handed the Huskies their first conference loss in more than three years. If you are looking for the team prepped and ready to make some waves in the playoff pool - this is the one.
Moffat County is on a nine-game winning streak. If they can ride the pony (the pre-game ritual dance the girls perform before each match) through the last four regular season games - each on the road - they will be a force to reckon with come districts.
Amy Dilldine, Kari Griffin and Angie Charchalis (even though Angie is a basketballer) should be shoo-ins for All Western Slope Conference Team.
Senior MacKenzie Maneotis made her return from a season-long absence due to injury. Maneotis will have a tough time cracking this lineup, but I'm sure she will enjoy the ride.
Expect a state ranking soon.
So many questions attributed to this unit - on both sides of the ball. The offense can't sustain rhythm, and the defense is susceptible to the big play on the outside.
The Bulldogs have been out-scored, 134-45, the past four games - all losses.
The injury bug has hit Moffat County hard during the stretch, enabling fans a "what-if" option.
The squad will return much needed defender Travis Wilson, who will shore up the linebacker unit. Speedy receiver Drew Turner and scat-back Matt Kincheloe also will don the blue and white on Friday.
Coach Kip Hafey might have found a diamond in the rough in sophomore Matt Linsacum in Friday's loss to Berthoud. Linsacum throws a tight, accurate pass that surprised the coaches - as well as his receivers (the team had eight dropped passes).
The lineup could have a shake-up this week.
Hafey said after Monday's practice that all positions are open, implying that the best players will start, regardless of seniority.
With four games remaining, the Bulldogs need to win - and win now - if they plan on playing deep into November.
This is a team I can't quite put my finger on. They beat Palisade, then fell to defending league champion Battle Mountain by one goal. They then proceeded to lose four in a row to pretty much eliminate themselves from the playoffs. Next thing you know, the Bulldogs blew past Rifle on Saturday, pulling them back into the thick of the race. With two wins separating the No. 2 spot in the Western Slope League from the No. 6 spot, Moffat County is still in the hunt.
Three games remain for this young team, two appear winnable. If they can win those - and get a little luck - they can make it.
Junior Armando Lopez and freshman Tracy Mendoza, make this squad tick.
Lopez has tallied 12 goals on the season with Mendoza assisting on most. The future for this program is on the rise, after surpassing last year's win total of two.
Coach Todd Trapp has worked this team to the bone, and they are responding.
The Bulldogs have improved from week to week all season long. Junior Alicia Nelson has won three meets this year. Senior Mike McNicol has two individual titles, as well.
The team scenario is a different issue. Nelson and McNicol out-pace the next closest teammate by an average of one minute each meet. The gap among the numbers two through four runners is decreasing, leaving the team with optimism come regional time.
Moffat County's lone focus this late in the season is purely on the trip to state regionals Oct. 20.
The teams' might not qualify for the state championships, but Nelson and McNicol seem to be locks.