The Moffat County High School football team has aspirations of being a Western Slope League contender, but Rifle High School showed it is still king Friday night.
The Bears (2-0), which went undefeated in WSL play last year, gave a top-tier rushing performance and had strong defense to back it up in beating Moffat County, 45-0.
The Bulldogs (1-1) spread offense was shut down all game, and Rifle star running back Ryan Moeller showed why he is one of the state’s best at the Bulldog Proving Grounds.
Moeller, who rushed for over 300 yards last year against MCHS, was up to his old tricks. The senior broke runs of 93, 86 and 75 yards to bust the game open in the first half.
The 93-yarder came at a key point in the game.
Trailing 7-0 in the first quarter, MCHS forced and recovered a Moeller fumble at the five-yard line.
But Bulldogs quarterback Bubba Ivers returned the favor with a fumble on third and goal. After the turnover, Moeller broke through the line and ran away from the Bulldogs defense on the following play to make it a two-touchdown game.
The big plays would become a problem for MCHS the rest of the half.
“They just broke some huge runs,” MCHS coach Kip Hafey said. “Our defense got us some turnovers but we didn’t capitalize on them. Those were some early scores that might have changed the direction of the game. You’ve got to take advantage of those opportunities. Instead, (Rifle) popped some big plays.”
After his three first-half TDs, Moeller would tack on two more in the third quarter (including an 81-yard scamper) en route to another 300-yard performance.
Rifle coach Damon Wells said it was a matter of good things happening all at once for the Bears.
“We’re happy we were able to get in the right spots and make some things happen,” Wells said. “There wasn’t an overabundance of confidence on our sideline for a while.”
The Bulldogs offense struggled to get going, and when it did move the ball, penalties derailed drives.
On two drives in the second quarter, when a touchdown would have changed the outlook of the game, illegal procedures stalled the Bulldogs. Late in the first half, an Ivers touchdown pass was nullified by a holding penalty.
“A lot of mental mistakes,” Hafey said of the penalties. “I don’t even know how many more we had than them, but it was a bunch. That’s just focus. That’s something we’ve got to work on and definitely cut down this week.”
Despite the lopsided score, Wells was impressed with MCHS.
“I don’t know if this is going to sound hollow or fake, but the Moffat County kids played a great football game,” Wells said. “They were incredible physical and I thought their plan was good. We were on the ropes there for a while. We were scrambling to be honest with you.
“Things ended up working out for us.”
Rifle will take on Glenwood Springs High School next week, while Moffat County will play its first road game at Steamboat Springs High School.
Hafey said the game at Steamboat takes on added significance because the Bulldogs will be looking for a win in the WSL.
“We’re going to watching film tomorrow,” Hafey said. “We’ve got to see things we do well and keep improving on them, and also see the things we need to do better. This next game is huge for us. We have to get a league win.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Craig Daily Press sports coverage on Twitter at @CDP_Sports.