Steamboat Springs In a game like this, coaches have to make the most of the positives.
So when Moffat County coach Kip Hafey surveyed Friday's 40-24 loss at rival Steamboat Springs, he looked at the way his young team played in the second half.
"They could have hung it up after the first half," Hafey said. "They came out and played a good second half, and I'm proud of them. They showed a lot of heart."
After Steamboat scored on six of its first seven possessions to take a 40-0 lead early in the third quarter, Moffat County battled back, showing the type of heart that may pay dividends down the stretch.
It started with Eli Buckner.
After being held to 31 yards on 10 carries in the first half, the senior fullback finally got the Bulldogs on the board with a 43-yard run midway through the third quarter. A Jake Bricker two-point conversion cut the Steamboat lead to 40-8.
After a punt put Steamboat inside its own 3-yard line, Travis Wilson recovered a mishandled snap in the end zone. Buckner converted the conversion for a 40-16 deficit.
Then with less than three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Buckner again broke lose over the right side and galloped 44 yards for another Moffat score.
Buckner finished the game with 147 yards on 17 carries and scored two touchdowns.
Unfortunately, the bright second half couldn't overshadow a gloomy first half.
After Moffat County saw its 10-play opening drive stall with a punt, Steamboat showed its one of the most athletic teams in the league.
Steamboat was led by the play of sophomore quarterback Austin Hinder.
Hinder - playing in his first varsity game against Moffat County - accounted for 218 yards and five touchdowns.
"Austin is so passionate about the game," Steamboat Springs coach Aaron Finch said. "He loves playing and he's incredibly coachable. Obviously God gave him a lot of natural ability in his size and speed but most of what has happened with him is because of his work."
The loss leaves Moffat County at 2-3 overall and 3-1 in league play. With a tough matchup against Berthoud scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at home against Berthoud, Hafey said he hopes the second half of the Steamboat game has a carry-over effect.
"I was real proud of our young kids. They stepped up and played their tails off," Hafey said. "You got a Steamboat team that has a lot of weapons and is well-coached. Hand it to Steamboat they took it to us and got the win."