Craig Middle School football team fights back for 22-20 home victory
Football is a game of 11 players on offense and 11 players on defense.
But on Tuesday, you would never have known that.
Trailing 20-0 at the half to visiting South Routt County (1-3 overall), Craig Middle School football coach Todd Hildebrandt made a change.
Hildebrandt brought in three new players: two on defense and one on offense.
It would be all the help he needed, as the Bulldogs (4-1 overall) rallied for a 22-20 come-from-behind victory.
"We didn't come out with any intensity in the first half," Hildebrandt said, "and we didn't use any eighth-graders. We switched some things around, and it worked out well for us."
Bubba Ivers and Tyler Hildebrandt were subbed in on defense, and the duo constantly turned in big hit after big hit to disrupt and shut down the Soroco offense.
Tyler Hildebrandt recorded two sacks and a forced fumble, while Ivers had six tackles, five of which went for a loss of yards.
"We just want to play," Ivers said of the eighth-graders brought into the game. "It didn't seem like the team was excited to play. When we came in, we brought intensity into the game."
Michael Samuelson played running back the second half, and the eighth-grader single-handedly accounted for all of CMS's points.
Playing in front of a large crowd of teenaged girls who constantly were chanting his name, Samuelson scored on runs of 9, 57 and 76 yards.
Samuelson also had two, 2-point conversion runs.
"My blocking was good. It was really phenomenal," Samuelson said. "The team wasn't as pumped up in the first half. When I came in, I was just thinking of scoring."
Each time Samuelson toted the rock, his all-girl personal cheering section went nuts.
Samuelson doesn't know, but Tyler Hildebrandt does.
"The girls all like him because he's a running back," he said. "Offensive guys always get all the attention."
Unless, of course, you are the Soroco offense.
"Their defense really shut us down in the second half," Soroco coach Dan Kohler said. "Everybody got anxious when they started to score, and we let the game slip away."
Collin Krause (30 yards), Cody Gallup (46 yards) and Josh Baker (30 yards) scored on the ground for the visitors, on their way to the halftime lead.
But when Todd Hildebrandt changed his roster, the game's outcome changed, as well.
"The season is going well for us," Hildebrandt said. "We are learning a lot, and really improving each and every day we play."
Next up, CMS hosts Rangely Middle School at 9 a.m. Saturday.
John Vandelinder can be reached at 875-1793 or email@example.com