Schools across the state learned the leagues and opponents they’ll be playing in football for the next two seasons Thursday, with significant changes coming for Moffat County.
The Colorado High School Activities Association football committee selected its preferred proposals for alignment of the classifications and leagues in the upcoming 2014-15 athletic cycle. Moffat County High School was placed in the 2A Northwest League with five other teams.
The move to 2A from 3A in football was expected as the school’s enrollment has dropped well below the cutoff line since being place in 3A for the 2012 season. It still was welcome news for head coach Kip Hafey.
“We’re excited to be where we’re supposed to be,” he said about playing in 2A. “For two years we’ve been in a division we’re not supposed to be in. There will still be 14 schools bigger than us (in 2A), so it’s still no walk in the park.”
According to the CHSAA student numbers, Moffat County’s count of 504 will make it the fourth largest school in the Northwest League, smaller than Aspen, Coal Ridge and Battle Mountain, which had a request to play down from 3A granted.
Aside from those three schools, Basalt and Roaring Fork also will be in the Northwest League, a new league in 2A for next year. In the previous cycle, Gunnison and Olathe were in the same league with the rest of the 2A schools in a Western Slope League. Under the current proposal, those schools have been moved to the Southwest League with Bayfield, Pagosa Springs, Montezuma-Cortez and Alamosa.
The selected proposals still have to be approved by CHSAA’s legislative council in January. Hafey said Gunnison and Olathe were petitioning to be included in the Northwest League for travel and financial concerns, so it is possible the league layout could change next month.
With five conference opponents in the current alignment, it would require Moffat County to find four out of five conference games to fill out the nine game 2A schedule. That allows for some creativity with the schedule but also creates some difficulty with travel.
“I’d rather have (Gunnison and Olathe) in our conference because the schedule is easier to fill out,” Hafey said. “That’s two more games you have to play, and there’s a lot of teams with budget issues, so sometimes we struggle to find teams that will travel up here.”
Calls already have been made in trying to find prospective opponents for the 2014 season, but nothing can be set in stone until the dates of conference games are released. One team the Bulldogs are hoping to continue to schedule despite moving out of their conference is Steamboat Springs, Hafey said.
“We will do everything we can to make sure we play Steamboat,” he said. “Those are the kinds of games you love. It’s a rivalry game, and it only makes sense because the schools are so close together. We don’t want to miss out on that game.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org.