Steamboat Springs New Moffat County High School football coach Keith Gille has been in town for just 24 days, and he’s already a pair of games in as the Bulldogs head man.
Gille admits, he’s still picking up names and understanding player roles for the 30-plus kids he has on the roster.
And for four quarters Friday night at Steamboat Springs, the Bulldogs did what Gille envisions what Moffat County can grow to be in his tenure as coach.
Save for some untimely penalties, some critical mistakes near the goal line on both offense and defense, and giving up a trio of huge plays, the Bulldogs embodied the smash-mouth football Gille wants his program to be known for.
Moffat County fell to 0-2 on the season Friday night on its rival’s home field, 28-14, but ask Gille to set aside the mistakes plaguing his very young team, and the Bulldogs are at least one step closer to being on the right track.
The Sailors jumped out to a 13-0 margin early in the second quarter due to a pair of huge runs by Steamboat speedster Mitch McCannon. McCannon was inserted at running back after a lackluster offensive first quarter on both sides, and he quickly reeled off a 70-yard score on his first carry to make it 7-0 Sailors, 12 seconds into the second quarter. He followed it up with a twisting, weaving 32-yard touchdown run a series later.
But then the Bulldogs found life, intercepting all-leauge Steamboat quarterback Zach Holm with six minutes to go before halftime. A flurry of power runs by Moffat County running back Keenan Hildebrandt and quarterback Matt Hamilton positioned the Bulldogs in the game after Hildebrandt punched in a score from 4 yards out.
“I think we’re building a sense of confidence in the system that we can be a physical football team,” Gille said. “I’m proud of my kids.”
Inside a minute before halftime, though, Holm scampered in from 12 yards out, capping off a nine-play Sailors drive that gave Steamboat a 21-7 lead. And the first play of the second half just about sealed things, when Holm used a blend of power and speed to get the edge on a 50-yard touchdown run, digging the Bulldogs into a big, insurmountable hole.
“I’m proud of my kids in the way they battled,” Gille said. “We gave up big plays tonight. In the second half, we gave up the run by the quarterback, that’s the only score they got.”
Hamilton managed to connect with junior Kearn Gerber with a little more than four minutes to play, even with the score 28-14, it was too little, too late.
Hildebrandt paced all Bulldogs runners with 23 carries for 112 yards and a touchdown. All five of Hamilton’s completions went to Gerber, who finished a big night with 95 receiving yards and the fourth-quarter score.
Moffat County begins a three-game home stand next Friday night when it hosts Ridge View Academy, which lost to Platte Canyon in its opener, 42-24.
To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll