Hodge Raftopoulos runs through the line during offensive practice Wednesday at Moffat County High School. Raftopoulos, a senior, led the team in scoring last week out of the “thunder formation” against Delta High School and hopes he can repeat his three-touchdown performance tonight against Palisade High School.

Photo by Shawn McHugh

Hodge Raftopoulos runs through the line during offensive practice Wednesday at Moffat County High School. Raftopoulos, a senior, led the team in scoring last week out of the “thunder formation” against Delta High School and hopes he can repeat his three-touchdown performance tonight against Palisade High School.

Bulldogs v. Bulldogs

MCHS prepared for visit by ranked opponent on Homecoming

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Kip Hafey, Moffat County High School head football coach, brings his team together after practice Wednesday at MCHS. The Bulldogs wrapped up their last day of full contact practice for the week in preparation for tonight’s Homecoming game against Palisade High School. Hafey has a 6-2 career record on Homecoming at MCHS, although his teams have struggled against Palisade.

MCHS Homecoming results during head coach Kip Hafey’s tenure:

• 2009 – Moffat County 42, Eagle Valley 0

• 2008 – Moffat County 26, Rawlins 16

• 2007 – Moffat County 6, Eagle Valley 20

• 2006 – Moffat County 9, Steamboat Springs 21

• 2005 – Moffat County 32, Glenwood Springs 14

• 2004 – Moffat County 43, Delta 21

• 2003 – Moffat County 21, Rifle 7

• 2002 ¬ Moffat County 27, Glenwood Springs 20

Homecoming record: 6-2

Moffat County High School has been full of festivities this week.

That was easy to see within the first 10 seconds of entering the high school when students walked around in themed outfit of the day, like 1980s, cowfolk or hippies.

After school was also busy.

Teenagers spent their time building floats, working on boats or playing powder puff football. But, to some, there was little doubt what was the biggest event of the homecoming week — the football game.

“We do a lot of other stuff this week,” senior football player Brady Conner said. “But the week is really all about the football game.”

Although the pinnacle of the week involves his team, head coach Kip Hafey said Homecoming isn’t always his favorite week to prepare a team.

“A lot of coaches either lose hair or get a lot of gray hair on Homecoming week,” Hafey said. “There are so many distractions for the kids. Sometimes it’s hard to get them to focus.”

In his previous eight years as head coach, Hafey’s clubs have faired well with a 6-2 record on Homecoming. The victories have come by an average of about 19 points.

But, there’s no cupcake waiting for the Bulldogs to devour in front of the large home crowd this year.

Today, the boys in blue take on Palisade.

With a ranking in the top five of Colorado’s Class 3A, the Palisade Bulldogs are the first top-5 ranked team to visit for Homecoming during Hafey’s tenure.

In fact, Hafey has never beaten Palisade. Even further, he said he couldn’t remember the last time the Bulldogs in blue were victorious against the Crimson Dogs.

“It was sometime around ‘93 or ‘94,” he said. “They’ve taken it to us for a long run of games.”

Palisade’s tradition and ability doesn’t escape MCHS athletes.

“Last year we won our homecoming game by 40 plus points,” senior CJ Walt said. “That won’t be the case this year. We have one of the hardest games on our schedule.”

Palisade was ranked in the top-three until they were upset last week, 21-20, by Glenwood Springs. Palisade’s head coach, John Arledge, called out his players in the Grand Junction Sentinel after the game.

“I love the kids, but at the end of the day, they cowered to the score,” he said. “Instead of taking the win, they held on not to lose, and that’s the result.”

Hafey used Delta’s Homecoming last week as a way to motivate his players, and he doesn’t doubt that Arledge will do the same.

“Palisade is going to be fired up,” Hafey said. “Their coaches will tell them about our Homecoming and also tell them they need a big win this week.”

At the same time, Hafey expects to see some fire from his crew.

“They had a hunger in their eyes against Delta,” he said. “If they can take all the hoopla and energy in the hallways this week and release it under the lights, I think we’ll see a strong effort.”

Walt sounds ready.

“It’s my last Homecoming game,” he said. “I’m going to go all out.”

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