Moffat County Bulldogs ready to rip apart Steamboat rivals | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County Bulldogs ready to rip apart Steamboat rivals

Head coach Keith Gille supervises running drills Wednesday evening on the practice field at Moffat County High School. Bulldog football begins Friday night at MCHS, with the team hosting rival Steamboat Springs and aiming to avenge a 28-14 loss last season.

You couldn't ask for a more appropriate beginning to the varsity football season in Northwest Colorado.

Moffat County High School opens its schedule Friday night with a Zero Week match against its Highway 40 foes, the Steamboat Springs Sailors, duking it out at the Bulldog Proving Grounds.

If you go

Moffat County High School varsity football vs. Steamboat Springs

7 p.m. Friday

Bulldog Proving Grounds, 900 Finley Lane

— The night includes the Zero Week rivalry game, appearances by the MCHS cheer team and school mascot and ends with the Fifth Quarter parking lot dance party, hosted by Bear River Young Life and Grand Futures Prevention Coalition.

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Moffat County/Steamboat Springs rivalry — Recent history

The Bulldogs are 4-7 in games against Steamboat since 2004.

• 2014: 28-14, loss

• 2013: 57-15, loss

• 2012: 56-27, win

• 2011: 27-6, win

• 2010: 42-8, win

• 2009: 42-14, loss

• 2008: 43-7, loss

• 2007: 40-24, loss

• 2006: 21-9, loss

• 2005: 24-23, loss

• 2004: 40-20, win

On one hand, the meeting no longer holds the clout it used to, as the two schools are no longer in the same classification of the Western Slope League following MCHS's move to the 2A level last year. In previous years, the battle of the blue and red had a tremendous effect on either team's chances of making it to the playoffs.

Even without that pressure, the rivalry between the Bulldogs and the Sailors is largely the same as it has always been, both squads eager to avenge old losses or repeat past wins.

MCHS fell, 28-14, to Steamboat last season, and the kids from Craig have a losing streak to snap, with Moffat County 4-6 in meetings between 2004 and 2013, last rocking the Boat in 2012, the third in a series of Bulldog triumphs: 42-8 (2010), 27-6 (2011) and 56-27 (2012).

4-6 is also the total tally for both teams from 2014, a season that saw the Bulldogs enter the postseason for the first time since 2006, 3-2 in the Western Slope North League and picking up honors as the champion of the newly created organization, whereas Steamboat ended play with a 2-5 3A WSL record.

Now in his second season with MCHS, head coach Keith Gille has gotten a glimpse of the energy that comes with the regional rout, and he intends to start the year right as the Dogs defend their turf, Steamboat "a good measuring stick" to gauge how the season will look.

"We want to play physical team defense and stop their run, that's been our focus so far," Gille said, noting that a summer in the weight room and a steady stream of activities has kept players at their peak. "I think we have the kids to do that."

Filling the role of quarterback Friday night will be juniors Isaac Montoya and Keenan Hildebrandt.

As a second-string QB last year, Hildebrandt threw for 138 yards, and in various backfield functions, he rushed for 806 yards, gained 57 receiving yards and scored 12 total touchdowns. He also led the team in total tackles — solo and assisted — with 91.

Offensive assets like Brett Loyd, Shandon Hadley, Kearn Gerber, Eddie Smercina and Connor Scranton are ready to repeat their successes from last year, as are those whose specialties lie on the other side of the line of scrimmage, such as Stelios Peroulis — one of this year's team captains, along with Trevor Kuhn — who was responsible for 4.5 sacks and 30 yards lost for opponents last season, with 53 tackles altogether, also recovering four fumbles.

Likewise, Hadley was an all-around threat as the Bulldogs' designated master of interception, causing three turnovers last year.

And, the senior is psyched about the season opener, to say the least.

"Cutting holes, having more confidence, knowing I can cut that gap," Hadley said, listing off the experience he's gained over the summer.

But, it will take the effort of the entire squad to get off on the right foot, he added.

"It's a team sport, we've all got to work together, and hopefully we can stop the ball on both sides and get it going," he said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.

If you go

Moffat County High School varsity football vs. Steamboat Springs

7 p.m. Friday

Bulldog Proving Grounds, 900 Finley Lane

— The night includes the Zero Week rivalry game, appearances by the MCHS cheer team and school mascot and ends with the Fifth Quarter parking lot dance party, hosted by Bear River Young Life and Grand Futures Prevention Coalition.

Moffat County/Steamboat Springs rivalry — Recent history

The Bulldogs are 4-7 in games against Steamboat since 2004.

• 2014: 28-14, loss

• 2013: 57-15, loss

• 2012: 56-27, win

• 2011: 27-6, win

• 2010: 42-8, win

• 2009: 42-14, loss

• 2008: 43-7, loss

• 2007: 40-24, loss

• 2006: 21-9, loss

• 2005: 24-23, loss

• 2004: 40-20, win

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