Friday Night Matchup...
Moffat County High School (2-1, 1-1 WSL) vs. Delta High School (2-1, 1-0)
7 p.m., Bulldog Proving Grounds
Last time they played: In 2011, Moffat County won, 22-14
Last week: Moffat County beat Steamboat 56-27 while Delta won at Eagle Valley, 25-21
Last year, after beating Delta 22-14, Moffat County was just 1-3, getting in the win column for the first time.
This year, with a win over the Panthers (2-1, 1-0 Western Slope League) the Bulldogs would improve to 3-1, and perhaps be on their way to bigger and better things.
The teams look similar beyond their records so far. Both boast a talented cast of offensive players, meaning defenses have to cover them all over the field.
For the Panthers it starts with quarterback Mitchell Whiteside, who has completed nearly 60 percent of his passes while throwing for five touchdowns and just one interception this season. Whiteside is also a threat to run the ball, averaging 6.5 yards per carry on the season.
“He’s fast,” MCHS head coach Kip Hafey said of Whiteside. “He’s got a great arm and they love to run the option. So he’s definitely a threat with his feet too. If he gets that edge on you, he’ll go for awhile.”
Of Delta’s 28 completions on the season, 23 of them have found two targets. Ryan Whiteside and Chris Black have each had stellar games in the Panthers’ two wins, making Delta a difficult team to cover.
“They’ve got good receivers,” Hafey said. “One is big and tall and the other is really quick. We’re going to need good coverage and disguise our coverages well. We need to get pressure on the quarterback, which is a more difficult task this week because they like to leave max protections in.”
In the past, Hafey said Delta has always liked to run the ball.
“Delta is always physical. They’re a very physical team,” he said. “Their thing in the past has been to run the ball, but last week we saw them open it up and throw it a bunch.”
Last week, Delta fell behind Eagle Valley 21-6 at halftime. But the Panthers bore down on defense and shut out the Devils in the second half on their way to victory.
“Offensively, we just worked on fine-tuning our sets,” Hafey said. “They’ve got a tough defense. We added some trickier stuff in there, so we’ll try to keep them off-balance.”
Hafey called last week’s game against Steamboat Springs an important one because the team needed to get a league win. The Bulldogs accomplished that, but it has not made tonight’s game any less important.
“It’s still early in the season, but every game at this point is critical to getting a chance at the playoffs,” Hafey said. “It’s definitely a big game. Hopefully we play well and can get a win. It would be great to get on a winning streak and get rolling.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 875-1795 or email@example.com. Follow the game on Twitter at @CDP_Sports.