Freshman quarterback Zach Raftopolous drops back to pass against Montrose High School. The Bulldogs lost to the Indians, 47-0.

john vandelinder

Freshman quarterback Zach Raftopolous drops back to pass against Montrose High School. The Bulldogs lost to the Indians, 47-0.

Beginning with a blank canvas

Moffat County High School freshmen football coach starts from scratch

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john vandelinder

Freshman quarterback Zach Raftopolous drops back to pass against Montrose High School. The Bulldogs lost to the Indians, 47-0.

— Effort.

Aggressiveness.

These are the intangibles that freshmen boys football head coach Jim Neton is searching for among his players.

The Moffat County High School freshmen football players step into a new world when making the jump from middle school. The game is faster, stronger and sometimes more confusing.

"Most of these kids have played in junior high, but it's a big move up for a lot of them," Neton said.

Graduating into the high school ranks is the first step.

"We basically have to start all over," Neton said. "Our main goal is to begin with the basics of the game and move on from there."

MCHS has new offensive and defensive schemes, none of which had been seen by freshmen players before practice began.

The freshmen coaches preach timing, footwork and responsibility to each other to their young squad.

"It's somewhat confusing for these kids at first, especially the offensive line," Neton said. "With all the motion we use and having the tackles and guards pulling, it takes some time before the kids start to get it.

"It's completely different to what they are used to."

Neton's focal points are technique, blocking and the ability to wrap up a tackle.

"It's a huge learning curve," he said. "The kids need to improve in all phases of the game, but they are more than capable of it."

The learning hit its peak for the week Saturday afternoon, when the Bulldog's were shutout, 47-0, by visiting Montrose High School.

"We took it on the chin," Neton said. "We learned that we have a long way to go. We were outmanned, but our boys didn't quit."

Montrose is a class 4A school fielding mostly sophomores, while the Bulldogs are a 3A true freshman squad.

"We don't focus so much on teams like Montrose," Neton said. "We are concentrating on our own conference, which is solely ninth-graders. Don't get me wrong though, it's a great opportunity to see what they got."

While some observers believe talent is the key to success, Neton disagrees.

"I firmly believe that effort and aggressiveness will absolutely overcome average talent," he said. "If they get it together, they will become great players."

However, molding great players isn't Neton's biggest goal.

"We want the team to go out there and have fun," he said. "Who knows, maybe we'll win some games along the way."

John Vandelinder can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or jvandelinder@craigdailypress.com

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