If you go
What: Moffat County High School varsity football vs. Rifle
When: 7 p.m. tonight
Where: MCHS, 900 Finley Lane
Keys to the game
Moffat County High School football coach Kip Hafey’s three keys to winning against Rifle:
• Taking advantage of turnovers.
• Not missing any tackles.
• Sustaining offensive drives
Having beaten a pack of Huskies, the Moffat County High School Bulldogs are now facing a larger threat.
The MCHS varsity football team will take on the Rifle Bears at 7 p.m. tonight in a home game the Bulldogs hope will get them closer to the playoffs.
The Bulldogs are 2-2 in the 3A Western Slope League after an overtime victory against Battle Mountain last week, while Rifle is tied with Glenwood Springs for first in the division at 4-0 in the league and 6-1 overall.
MCHS coach Kip Hafey said his team will focus on making big plays out of any turnovers they create.
“Any time you’re the underdog like this, takeaways are key,” Hafey said. “That’s going to be pivotal to any time you try to upset a big team.”
Hafey said his players will also be working on hitting harder in tonight’s game, while on offense, the goal is to eat up clock and rack up first downs.
The team will still be adjusting tonight, as the roster shifts around.
With four starters injured in the Battle Mountain game, the formations on offense and defense will adjust to the absence of junior Miguel Molina and seniors Chet Harvey, Justin Benedict and Nate Chapman.
“It’s bizarre, the type of injuries that happened, because some of them were really severe and others weren’t,” Hafey said. “Four in one game is just unheard of.”
Senior Casey Martin also remains on the injured list.
Hafey said the difference in formations will give players a chance to try new positions, like senior Brady Conner, who will play running back. On defense, junior Braeden Sullivan and senior Zach Raftopoulos will step in as cornerbacks, among other changes.
The team’s adjustment to these changes has been favorable.
“We’ve had a very good week of practice,” Hafey said. “They’ve been very intense, they’ve worked hard and picked it up in new positions, and the players around them did a good job getting them on the same page. They’re looking to come in for an upset.”
Rifle coach Damon Wells has a similar strategy in mind for the game by letting his team gauge the Bulldogs before deciding on a game plan.
“We’re not going to run it just to run it,” Wells said. “We’re just going to try to take advantage of what’s there.”
In Rifle’s last game, they narrowly defeated Delta, 14-10, with no scoring in the second half. Wells said this is not indicative of how his team should be expected to play.
“For the amount of work we’ve put in, I’m hoping we’re ready to rock and roll in the fourth quarter,” he said. “It’ll be a dogfight.”
Hafey said he is preparing for an uphill battle.
“We know where we’re at and we still have a shot to get in the playoffs,” he said.
One element in their favor is that tonight’s game is the first home contest in three weeks.
“It’s good to be back home after two weeks on the road,” Hafey said.