Bulldogs open league play seeking 1st victory of the season | CraigDailyPress.com

Bulldogs open league play seeking 1st victory of the season

Joshua Gordon

The Moffat County High School varsity football team opens Western Slope League play tonight at home against Delta High School. The Bulldogs will rely on senior Wes Chapman, pictured above, and the rest of the offensive backfield to pound the ball, but head coach Kip Hafey said defense will decide the game.

The Moffat County High School varsity football team is facing a must-win situation in the fourth game of the season.

The Bulldogs host Delta High School in the Western Slope League opener for both teams at 7 p.m. tonight at MCHS, 900 Finley Lane.

After an 0-3 start in non-conference play, head coach Kip Hafey said his team is ready to go.

"We always like to play at home because we have great fans and great support," he said. "Anytime you can play at home, I think it is worth about seven points, so we are excited to open league play here in front of our home crowd."

Despite last week's 51-22 loss to John F. Kennedy High School in Denver, the Bulldogs have had success offensively.

The problem for MCHS has been on the other side of the ball — defending the pass specifically.

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The Bulldogs have allowed more than 700 yards through the air in the first three games.

"Our defense has struggled the last two weeks, so they need to pick it up and have a huge game," Hafey said Thursday.

"Our run stop is better, but Delta isn't afraid to throw. They run a veer option so we have to be able to stick to our assignments."

The Panthers, winners of two straight and 2-1 on the season, have thrown for 193 yards and rushed for 527 yards in three games.

MCHS junior Michael Samuelson, a running back, linebacker and defensive end for the Bulldogs, said while Delta tends to run more than pass, he expects the WSL foe to air it out tonight.

"It is important that we start protecting against the pass," he said. "It is going to start with getting more pressure on the quarterback, because opponents have been throwing at will against us. We have tried some new coverage schemes and people in different positions, so I think we are working toward where we need to be."

Offensively, the Bulldogs are averaging almost 300 yards per game on the ground.

Samuelson said run blocking has been a big reason the Bulldogs have succeeded up the middle.

"We worked really hard all summer to add strength and work on opening up holes," he said. "I think running the ball is going to help open up the pass more and then passing will open the running up again."

Hafey said his players' commitment to the run has provided positive outcomes.

"Our kids 100 percent believe in our system," he said. "They execute it the way we practice and have ran it against some of the best teams in the state."

Momentum will play a factor, Hafey said, in a game that could become a shootout.

"They have momentum coming in and we are looking for ours," he said. "Our defensive needs to get some turnovers and get some three-and-outs so our offensive has momentum to put points on the board."

Hafey said defense would decide tonight's game.

For Samuelson and his teammates, tonight's game could make or break the season.

"It is do or die time," he said. "We have went 6-4 the last two seasons and missed the playoffs, so right now we need to start winning and go on a streak.

"This is the most important game of our season."

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If you go …

What: Moffat County High School varsity football vs. Delta High School

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: MCHS, 900 Finley Lane

— Admission is $5 for adults and $4 for students and senior citizens. There will be a half-time appreciation event for all Doak Walker tackle football players and coaches on the field.

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