Mason Updike, a Moffat County High School senior, runs behind a blocker last week against Delta High School at MCHS. The Bulldogs travel Saturday to No. 2 Palisade High School in a battle for Western Slope League supremacy.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

Mason Updike, a Moffat County High School senior, runs behind a blocker last week against Delta High School at MCHS. The Bulldogs travel Saturday to No. 2 Palisade High School in a battle for Western Slope League supremacy.

Bulldogs prepare for No. 2 Palisade on the road

If you go…

What: Moffat County High School varsity football vs. Palisade High School

When: Noon Saturday

Where: Palisade High School, 3679 G Rd.

— Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens. Children 6 and younger are free.

photo

Kip Hafey

Quotable

“Our defense kept us in the game last time out and only allowed one touchdown. Going up against the high-powered Palisade offense, the defense will have to step up again. When you are going up against a good running team, you can’t miss tackles, and we did much better at that last week.”

— Kip Hafey, Moffat County High School varsity football head coach, on the current play of the Bulldogs’ defense

A week after recording the first win of the season, the Moffat County High School boys varsity football team heads into the biggest challenge of the season.

The Bulldogs travel Saturday to Palisade High School to take on the No. 2 ranked team in Class 3A, according to the Denver Post.

Kickoff is scheduled for noon.

“It is really going to come down to execution when you play one of the best teams in the state,” MCHS head coach Kip Hafey said. “We put in a few wrinkles here and there, but we have to keep doing what we are doing to see if we can come out with a huge upset.”

Palisade (4-0 overall, 1-0 Western Slope League) started the season 3-0 in non-conference play before defeating WSL foe Glenwood Springs High School, 31-21, in its league opener.

The biggest match-up Saturday may be which team can stop the run.

The Bulldogs are averaging about 273 rushing yards per game while Palisade is averaging over 316 yards per game.

“They are primarily a run team,” Hafey said. ”They run a lot of different formations, but they like to run the edge and C-gap with a little play action off of it. We have to be prepared to stop the run if we want to win.”

After starting the season against three ranked non-conference opponents, the Bulldogs (1-3 overall, 1-0 WSL) opened league play last week at home against Delta High School.

MCHS rode to a 22-14 victory on the back of junior Michael Samuelson, who rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown.

However, in last year’s match-up against Palisade, the Bulldogs struggled on offense, barely cracking the 150-yard mark for total offense.

Hafey said his team should count on using a combination of pass and run to get past Palisade.

“Running the ball has worked for us, and we are going to keep doing it,” he said. “But, we will pass if we need to. The passing game did its job against Delta last week, so we know we can turn to it if need be.”

In the Bulldogs’ first three games, the defense allowed more than 700 yards passing.

Against Delta, however, the defense stepped up and allowed 81 passing yards and just more than 200 total offensive yards.

“Our defense kept us in the game last time out and only allowed one touchdown,” Hafey said. “Going up against the high-powered Palisade offense, the defense will have to step up again.

“When you are going up against a good running team, you can’t miss tackles, and we did much better at that last week.”

Hafey said the unit that could affect the outcome of the game the most would be the Bulldogs’ offensive line.

MCHS has racked up almost 20 holding penalties in their first four games.

“We are still down three starters going in, so we are going to be looking to the young guys to elevate their game and help us be successful,” Hafey said. “The holding penalties are just something we need to work on. We have talked to guys about not grabbing jerseys yet still keeping with their blocks.”

In the past two seasons, the Bulldogs have had four losses and just missed the playoffs.

With three losses already, Hafey said each game is important.

“Going to the playoffs and fighting for a championship is still our goal,” he said. “These kids work hard every day with a great attitude and they are in a good position at this point in the season.”

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