Finch's keys to victory:
• Execution. The Sailors' biggest key this week, Finch said, is for the offense to execute the way they know how, and to avoid mental mistakes on the field.
• Turnovers. The team that turns the ball over usually loses. Finch said the Sailors need to take care of the football.
• Defense. Finch said he's well aware of Moffat County's tendency to run the ball and he wants his defense to force the Bulldogs into three-and-out situations as much as possible.
Hafey's keys to victory:
• Turnovers. Turnovers will bring momentum to Moffat County, Hafey said, and limit the Sailors' offensive rhythm.
• Defense. The Sailors are a "big play" team, according to Hafey, something he said the Bulldogs' defense needs to limit to have success.
• Special teams. Hafey said the Bulldogs' special teams needs to win the battle of field position to have a better chance of winning.
As far as high school football goes, it doesn't get any better than a rivalry game.
Steamboat Springs (6-1 overall, 5-1 Western Slope League) visits the Bulldog Proving Grounds on Friday.
To those familiar with the game's history, records and predictions can be pretty much thrown out the window when these two teams match up.
The Bulldogs (3-4 overall, 2-3 WSL) are coming off a stellar defensive performance last week against visiting Rawlins - a 26-16 win, while the Sailors enter Friday's contest riding the momentum of a 62-13 thrashing of Battle Mountain.
"It's a great rivalry," MCHS coach Kip Hafey said. "I mean, I think it's one of the better ones in the state. It's been going on a long time. It's great to have a rival like that."
Said SSHS coach Aaron Finch: "Given that it's a rivalry game, the aspects of rivalries always level the paying field dramatically. It becomes less about records and less about schemes, and becomes more about the team that can execute the best under the pressure of the rivalry and the excitement and energy of the rivalry."
If history is any indication, the game should be closely contested. The largest margin of victory since 2001 was a 20-point win by MCHS in 2004.
And, the teams actually battled to a 24-all tie in 2005.
"The games are always close," Hafey said. "We've had two overtime games, a tie, and we've each blown each other out once.
"It should be a good one."
Bulldogs - Brady Conner (knee). Sailors - Derek Morris (concussion)
Bulldogs - none. Sailors - none.
One - or both - of these teams has been ranked in the top 10 entering the rivalry game the past 11 seasons. : Hafey faced the Sailors four times as a quarterback/safety at MCHS, coming back from a three-touchdown deficit to earn a victory his senior season. : Sailors quarterback Austin Hinder has thrown for 910 yards and seven TD's, and rushed for 420 yards and seven TD's. : The teams battled to a 24-all tie in 2005. : The most lopsided victory in the rivalry went the way of the Bulldog in 2004, a 40-20 MCHS victory. : Steamboat won last year's game, 40-24. : The Sailors' lone loss this year was 39-14 at Palisade, a team that defeated Moffat County, 41-14.