McKinzie Klimper, a seventh-grader at Craig Middle School, outruns a Steamboat Springs defender on his way into the end zone Saturday at the Bulldog Proving Grounds. McKinzie and the Bulldogs beat Steamboat in their final game of the season, 22-6.

Photo by Nate Waggenspack

McKinzie Klimper, a seventh-grader at Craig Middle School, outruns a Steamboat Springs defender on his way into the end zone Saturday at the Bulldog Proving Grounds. McKinzie and the Bulldogs beat Steamboat in their final game of the season, 22-6.

Middle schoolers end season strong

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Alex Neverez (37) returns an interception in the third quarter of Saturday's Craig Middle School vs. Steamboat Springs seventh-grade football game at the Bulldog Proving Grounds. Alex would bring the pick into Sailors territory with help from a convoy of blockers, including Kaden Hafey (21).

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Ty McDaniel looks for space on a run during the first quarter against Steamboat Springs at the Bulldog Proving Grounds on Saturday. Ty had a touchdown run in Craig Middle School's 22-6 victory.

Quotable...

“We came to play defensively. We smashed them in the mouth as best we could, and they really only had one big pass play and one big run."

—Matt Ray, CMS seventh-grade football coach about his team’s defensive performance

The seventh-graders from Craig Middle School finished their football season on a high note when they beat their rivals from Steamboat Springs on Saturday afternoon.

In a tough game that featured good defensive play from both sides, the Bulldogs were able to make the big plays that made the difference in a 22-6 win.

The first big play came midway through the first quarter, when Ty McDaniel took a reverse and got to the edge, cruising in for a long touchdown run. Up until that point, the Bulldogs had moved the ball but had their drives stalled.

It was a reverse that again did the trick in the second quarter after the two teams traded possessions at about midfield. CMS took over and ran another reverse, this time to McKinzie Klimper.

The play went in the opposite direction and utilized a different player than the first, but the result was the same. McKinzie found the sideline and outran the Sailors defense for a 48-yard touchdown heading into halftime.

This was the second matchup of the season between the two teams, and head coach Matt Ray said running the reverse was something they thought would be successful based on the first game.

“They really bit hard on taking our outside away,” Ray said. “So when we saw that the reverses were wide open, we felt like we knew what they were going to do because in the first game, they did the same things.”

In the second half, the bulldogs would exploit Steamboat’s over-commitment to defending the reverses and other outside runs. Alex Neverez intercepted a pass in the third quarter, which set up a another long run for the CMS offense.

Kaden Hafey took a handoff up the middle and then broke outside and toward the end zone for a 36-yard run that gave the Bulldogs a 22-0 lead.

Steamboat would score to make it 22-6 on a 34-yard touchdown pass with 5:42 remaining in the fourth quarter, but CMS was able to run out the clock and expunge any chances of a comeback. It was the only blemish on an otherwise excellent defensive performance.

“We came to play defensively,” Ray said. “We smashed them in the mouth as best we could, and they really only had one big pass play and one big run. You can’t expect our guys to stop them every single play, so that was great.”

Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 875-1795 or nwaggenspack@craigdailypress.com. Follow Craig Daily Press Sports coverage on Twitter at @CDP_Sports.

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