If you go
What: MCHS varsity football versus Evergreen High School.
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: MCHS, 900 Finley Lane
Cost: $5 for adults, $4 for students
• For more information, call MCHS at 824-7036
Keys to the game
From head coach Kip Hafey:
• Assignment responsibilities: With Evergreen running an option offense, having defenders stay on their man is vital.
• Turnovers: Last season, turnovers hurt the Bulldogs, so starting the season without a turnover would be a good start, Hafey said.
• Special teams: With both teams only having 10 days of practice, special teams drills have been hard to get in, Hafey said.
Moffat County High School offensive starters:
• QB Wesley Chapman/Bubba Ivers
• WB Miguel Molina
• HB Braeden Sullivan
• FB Mason Updike
• WR Nate Chapman/Chet Harvey/Zach Raftopoulos
• TE Brady Conner
• LT Michael Pankey/Michael Samuelson
• LG Gage Spears
• C Angelo Raftopoulos
• RG CJ Walt
• RT Cody Adams/Tyler Hildebrandt
Moffat County High School defensive starters:
• LT Casey Martin
• DT Justin Benedict
• RT Dario Georgiou
• LOLB Brady Conner
• ROLB CJ Walt
• LILB Josh Pritchard
• MLB Angelo Raftopoulos
• RILB Steven Wagner
• LCB Ryder Seely
• S Miguel Molina
• RCB Braeden Sullivan
If it seems the Moffat County High School varsity football team is playing earlier than normal, it’s because it is.
The team will play at 7 p.m. today during a zero-week game against Evergreen at MCHS, 900 Finley Lane. Zero-week games are played before school opens.
Zero week or not, the game feels sudden, senior CJ Walt said.
“I’m going to miss it when it’s done,” he said. “It’s something we’ve been looking forward to, and I think it’s going to be good. I still might be a little upset.”
For Walt, who will start at right guard and right outside linebacker, today’s game marks the beginning of the end of a three-year varsity career.
“My first home opener was a really big deal for me,” he said. “I’ve kind of learned to cope with it.”
Moffat County returns four starters from last year on both offense and defense, including Walt.
Last year, the Bulldogs were one of the last teams to have their playoff destiny decided.
The team, with its 6-4 record (4-4 in the Western Slope League), was left out of the playoffs.
Evergreen, which is coming off a 3-7 year (2-6 in the Metro League), is returning 19 total starters, so they should be tough, especially on offense, MCHS head coach Kip Hafey said.
“They have a multi-set offense,” he said. “They will line up under center or out of the shotgun. They also run a lot of speed-options.”
Walt has been facing Evergreen through the MCHS scout offense and defense.
On offense, their speed is their weapon, he said.
“They run a lot of option,” he said. “They will spread it out a little. They do a little bit of everything.
“They get to the outside really quickly.”
On defense, Evergreen’s four-man front is something the Bulldogs will need to watch for, Walt said.
“It’s a little different, because we’re used to seeing a three-man front,” he said. “We’ve been going against a four-man (in practice) and I think we’ve got it.”
The Bulldogs will look to crack Evergreen’s front through its Wing-T offense.
Last year, the Bulldogs had three senior running backs in Jasen Kettle, Pablo Salcido and Nathan Tomlin.
This year, there is a trio of juniors that have Hafey excited.
Fullback Mason Updike is the owner of a 140-yard rushing performance last fall against Battle Mountain. In 2009, he averaged 5.82 yards per rush and 10.3 yards per catch.
Braeden Sullivan steps into the team’s halfback slot. Sullivan was third on the team with 309 rushing yards and 6.87 yards-per-carry in 2009, which was second on the team behind Kettle’s 9.87.
Wingback Miguel Molina was a receiver in 2009, and his highlights included hauling in a 40-yard touchdown on homecoming.
On defense, there is a mixture of old and new.
At the outside linebacker spots, seniors Walt, Angelo Raftopoulos and Brady Conner will be the anchors, Hafey said.
“We also have two sophomores who are going to get some playing time at the middle linebacker positions,” he said.
Because the team lost a week of preseason to prepare for the game, there are still ongoing positional battles, including quarterback.
Hafey said junior Wesley Chapman will start the game but sophomore Bubba Ivers will come in quickly, and the two will split snaps during the home opener.
Not only have positional battles been affected by the shortened preseason, but the team has had to cram more into its practices, Hafey said.
“It’s a lot of pressure,” he said. “No one could miss a single practice, so we had to be very organized.
“Normally, on this Saturday, we would have a scrimmage and break down film.”
But, an early season game could also be a blessing, Hafey said.
“For one, we’ll have a bye week in September, which will be great so our guys can get a little rest,” he said. “We also have to be better prepared to start the season, and I think our guys are ready.”