Wes Chapman, a Moffat County High School senior, runs toward the sideline Oct. 28 against Eagle Valley High School at the Bulldog Proving Grounds. The MCHS varsity football team finished the 2011 season 3-7 overall and 3-4 in Western Slope League play. Going up against a tough schedule and dealing with numerous injuries, head coach Kip Hafey said the players kept fighting.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

Wes Chapman, a Moffat County High School senior, runs toward the sideline Oct. 28 against Eagle Valley High School at the Bulldog Proving Grounds. The MCHS varsity football team finished the 2011 season 3-7 overall and 3-4 in Western Slope League play. Going up against a tough schedule and dealing with numerous injuries, head coach Kip Hafey said the players kept fighting.

Bulldog football overcomes schedule, injuries to finish strong

Season at a glance ...

The Moffat County High School varsity football team’s game results from the 2011 season:

(Date — place — opponent — result)

• Aug. 26 — away — Evergreen — 17-7L

• Sept. 2 — home — Aspen — 32-28L

• Sept. 17 — away — Kennedy — 51-22L

• Sept. 23 — home — Delta — 22-14W

• Oct. 1 — away — Palisade — 38-20L

• Oct. 7 — home — Glenwood Springs — 34-14L

• Oct. 14 — home — Battle Mountain — 28-13L

• Oct. 21 — away — Rifle — 48-6L

• Oct. 28 — home — Eagle Valley — 52-28W

• Nov. 4 — away — Steamboat Springs — 27-6W

— MCHS finished the season 3-7

The goal for the Moffat County High School varsity football team every season is the playoffs, head coach Kip Hafey said.

But the Bulldogs’ schedule was daunting this season and though the team started the year with 12 seniors, only four finished because of injuries.

“We always want the playoffs, but now we have to take the momentum of winning our last two games and use that for next year,” Hafey said. “The guys worked hard all season and gave everything they had.”

The Bulldogs finished the season 3-7 overall and 3-4 in Western Slope League play after beating Eagle Valley and Steamboat Springs in consecutive weeks to end the season.

Of the seven teams MCHS lost to, six advanced to the playoffs.

MCHS started the season with three consecutive non-conference match-ups.

The Bulldogs fell to Evergreen (9-1), 17-7, in the opening week on the road before losing another close one to Class 2A Aspen (7-3), 32-28, the following week at home.

Evergreen is the No. 7 seed in the Class 3A playoffs, while Aspen drew the No. 12 seed in the 2A playoffs.

After a bye week, Moffat County traveled to Kennedy (10-0) and left with a 51-22 loss.

Kennedy is the No. 2 seed in the 3A playoffs.

Rifle (10-0), which won the Western Slope League, is the fourth seed in the 3A playoffs, while fellow WSL members, Battle Mountain (9-1) and Palisade (8-2), enter the playoffs as the No. 9 and No. 10 seeds, respectively.

The Bulldogs lost to Rifle, 48-6, Battle Mountain, 28-13, and Palisade, 38-20.

“We never had an easy opponent,” Hafey said. “We lost a lot of close games to good teams, and the guys kept fighting through every game.”

Because of the injuries to the upperclassmen, Hafey said numerous younger players had to fill into positions they had never played.

Still, Hafey said, everyone improved throughout the season.

“Everyone showed a lot of heart and stepped up when they needed,” he said. “I think everything they had to go through taught them character and helped them continually improve. We always want to win games, but if we can make each player a better person, that is a win for us coaches.”

The Bulldogs averaged 233.3 rushing yards per game this season.

Junior quarterback Bubba Ivers led the attack with 1,046 yards on the ground and 11 touchdowns.

Fellow junior Michael Samuelson added 864 yards and 10 touchdowns.

“Michael would get into the holes and block but when he got the ball, he went up the gut and had to work for every yard,” Hafey said. “All our running backs blocked on the edges for each other and for Bubba. You can’t do anything in football without blockers, so our line also was very important.

“We did better as the season went on and improved every game.”

In the first three games, the Bulldogs’ defense gave up more than 700 yards through the air.

Improved tackling made all the difference, Hafey said.

“We tell the guys that you can be a great hitter, but that doesn’t always mean you are a good tackler,” Hafey said. “They stepped up and got it done and against Battle Mountain, who was averaging about 50 points a game, we only allowed 28 points.”

While the Bulldogs will lose many key contributors in the seniors, the team will also return numerous juniors next season.

With many of the juniors getting significant playing time this year, Hafey said the experience would be beneficial.

“We can use all the playing time the players got this year as a stepping stone to get off to a fast start next year,” he said. “But, it is going to be the sacrifice in the offseason that determines how we will do.

“About 10 years ago, you could get away with not lifting. Now, we have to do things to improve so we can continue to compete.”

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