If you go...
What: Moffat County (0-1, 0-0 Western Slope League) at Rifle (1-0, 0-0 WSL)
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Rifle High School, 1350 Prefontaine Ave.
With an 0-1 start on its plate, it won’t get any easier for the Moffat County football team as it goes after its first win of the season.
The Bulldogs travel to Rifle for game two of 2013, taking on the defending Western Slope League champions and state runners-up at 7 p.m. today. They will need to play a near-perfect game in order to upset the Bears, who enter the week 1-0 and ranked third in the state in 3A.
That will start with the run defense, which was solid last week against Ridge View Academy. Rifle moves the ball on the ground, mostly through the double wing formation. While last season’s 3A Player of the Year, Ryan Moeller, will no longer take the field for the Bears, they have senior Kellin Leigh coming off a three-touchdown game against Coal Ridge — on just four carries.
“They have two returning running backs who had a thousand yards last year,” Moffat County head coach Kip Hafey said. “They have 12 kids who ran under a five second 40 (yard dash), and our fastest is a 5.12. So they’re still going to be extremely talented.”
Moffat County will look to smother that running game by mixing up its defense and keep Rifle guessing, along with every player consistently doing his job, Hafey said.
Last year in Craig, the Bulldogs could not contain the big play from Rifle, but also couldn’t get anything going when they had the ball. Rifle returns a chunk of players from one of the top defenses in the state last year, so moving the ball against them doesn’t figure to be any easier.
Add to that Moffat County’s struggles offensively at Ridge View, and the Bulldogs have their work cut out for them. But they have worked on offense all week and feel prepared to take it to the Bears.
“We worked a lot on timing and hitting our blocking assignments,” Hafey said. “We want to try and create double teams and out-man them at the point of attack. If we do that, who knows what could happen.”
Despite the difficulty moving the ball at Ridge View, Moffat County thinks small adjustments could make a big difference.
“In the film against Ridge View Academy, we had good blocks but by the time our running back was getting to the line, their quick linebackers were filling the holes well,” said senior Colten Yoast. “If we can get the ball to the line a little bit faster, we should be able to make some plays.”
Even if the Bulldogs play an excellent football game, blowing out Rifle isn’t likely. That’s something the team understands and is ready for, though.
“We’ve talked about it this week,” Hafey said. “If you’re not there to compete, then why are you there? So we’re going to play hard and Rifle will remember our team. We’ve worked hard all week and this is a determined group of kids.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org