Friday night matchup...
Moffat County High School (1-1) vs. Steamboat Springs High School (1-1)
7 p.m., Steamboat Springs
Last meeting: MCHS won, 34-7
Last week: Moffat County lost to Rifle High School 45-0 and Steamboat beat Summit High School 21-19.
The Moffat County High School football team is heading into its third game of the season in need of a victory.
To get back on track, the Bulldogs will have to beat their rivals from Steamboat Springs High School. In 2012, the early-season matchup has taken on added significance.
Last week, Steamboat beat Summit High School to break a 22-game losing streak. Now the Sailors and Bulldogs, each with 1-1 records and 0-1 marks in the Western Slope League, will be looking to get a leg up in the conference when they meet at 7 p.m. Friday at Gardner Field in Steamboat.
“Both teams looking to get on track in the league,” MCHS head coach Kip Hafey said. “That’s something we’ve talked about all week. That’s been our focus. Less the rivalry and more that we need to get a league win.”
Last year’s game was a one-sided affair, with MCHS winning 27-6 at the Bulldog Proving Grounds. But that was the final game of the season, when both teams had no shot at the playoffs.
This year, the games are still meaningful, and Steamboat looks like a much-improved unit. Last year, the Sailors lost to Eagle Valley High School 34-7. This year, it was just a 35-21 defeat away from home.
Steamboat’s spread offense presents a unique challenge for the Bulldogs. Ridge View Academy and Rifle High School both ran the ball out of power formations, so Steamboat will give Moffat County’s defense a new look.
“Almost a third of their plays are pass plays,” Hafey said. “(Their offense) is kind of a hybrid of ours, really similar. They run some pistol stuff and a lot of spread.”
That means the Bulldogs concentrated on different aspects of their defense during practice this week.
“We worked really hard on our coverages,” Hafey said. That’s going to be huge in this game. Tight coverages and getting a rush on the QB.”
Seniors Christian Ramirez and Skyler Kauf figure to be a big part of Moffat County’s defensive game plan. Ramirez connected with Kauf (who had 176 yards receiving) on two of his three touchdown passes in the win over Summit.
Hafey was especially wary of Ramirez.
“He runs the option well and he’s a playmaker,” Hafey said. “That’s the kid we’re definitely going to have to account for and limit his runs. If he gets in the open field, he can do some damage.”
Hafey knows last week’s loss will not be on his players’ mind come game time. They will be focused on winning what they call the “Championship of the Valley.”
“Rivalry games are always fun,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what your records are, it doesn’t matter what anyone’s saying before the game. There isn’t a kid off either team that’s not going to show up to play.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Craig Daily Press sports coverage on Twitter at @CDP_Sports.