Craig Middle School is looking to finish the football season undefeated, and if a recent game is any indication, there is a strong chance both the seventh- and eighth-grade teams do so.
In a combined game with seventh- and eighth-grade players Tuesday at CMS, the Bulldogs defeated Soroco Middle School, 40-6.
The eighth-graders took the field in the first quarter, and started dominating in the first 15 seconds.
Tyler Davis, the starting quarterback and defensive end, ran back Soroco’s kickoff for a touchdown.
And he didn’t let up.
He led the Bulldogs’ attack on Soroco’s kickoff return, stopping them at the 25-yard line.
“We really need to keep up on defense,” Davis said.
Davis was the driving force for the eighth-graders, running in a second touchdown with more than five minutes left to go in the first quarter.
Davis said he has scored 14 touchdowns on the season.
“I think there’s been three different times when Tyler intercepted a pitch from the (other) team and ran it in for a touchdown,” eighth-grade coach Gary Tague said.
Once the eighth-grade team finished the first quarter, the score was 16-0, as Tague handed the reins to seventh-grade coaches Todd Hildebrandt and Norm Yoast.
“There are only about 14 or 15 kids on Soroco’s team, and we’ve got about 75 on both our teams,” Tague said. “They’re playing an eight-man offense out there.”
CMS scaled down to eight players on defense to accommodate, though remained with 11 on offense.
Hildebrandt said he admired the Soroco players, many of whom were in for almost every play.
“They have to be exhausted,” he said. “They were playing really hard.”
Hildebrandt’s seventh-graders drove the 16-0 score up steadily, scoring a touchdown in each of the remaining three quarters, although a breakaway run late in the fourth quarter by Soroco prevented the Bulldogs from maintaining a shutout.
Hildebrandt said getting an early lead and playing against a much smaller team allowed him to give more playing time to team members who have had less time on the field throughout the season.
“I think the lower half of the team played more than the upper half,” he said. “They all just fly to the ball.”
Seventh-grade fullback Blake Ludgate scored his first touchdown of the season.
“I get a decent amount of playing time, but today was definitely the most I’ve gotten,” he said.
Ludgate said he thought the team “moved up a step” as result of the game.
“Coach says we need to do that every game, and I think we achieved that,” he said.
With a 5-0 record for the season, Hildebrandt said he has confidence that the seventh- and eighth-grade teams can both finish the season with perfect records.
“These kids are making names for themselves,” he said. “Everybody’s supporting everyone, and that’s great.”
The players also have high hopes for the remaining games. The next match-up is an Oct. 5 home game against Meeker, while the season wraps up against rival Steamboat Springs on Oct. 9.
Davis is confident that the final game will amount to a win.
“Steamboat can’t beat us,” he said.