Moffat County football tackling challenges head-on | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County football tackling challenges head-on

Last season saw Moffat County High School's football program coping with some major alterations, not the least of which included a new coaching staff and a move to the 2A division of CHSAA. A year later, the head of the team has gotten more settled in to the area, and both he and players are ready to defend their title as the champions of the Western Slope North League.

Head coach Keith Gille has 79 athletes filling out the varsity and JV teams, possibly more coming on as the season progresses, and the bevy of Bulldogs have spent the last few months training hard with everything from training sessions with the pros to self-motivated pumping iron to grueling two-a-days to moments of building a rapport off the field.

Gille is joined by Jeff Wert as offensive coordinator, Jeff Sullivan as defensive coordinator and line coach, Will Montgomery as strength coach and former Bulldog Kolton Wickham filling in wherever needed.

"We also called on (MCHS) grads like Michael Samuelson and Tyler Hildebrandt to help us out this summer, which was great," Gille said.

While last season featured a minimal amount of seniors on the team, this year is heavy on upperclassmen, with seniors Jeff Anderson, Kearn Gerber, Justin Guereca, Shandon Hadley, Issik Herod, Dylan Kincade, Trevor Kuhn, Brett Loyd, Blake Ludgate, Chase Peed, Stelios Peroulis, Joe Selbach, Brady Springer, Bryce Tuttle and Garrett Uptain on the roster.

Some are returning from last fall, while others like Kincade and Ludgate are back in the sport after a long hiatus.

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"Conditioning has been tough since practices started, but I'm getting there," said Ludgate, a wide receiver and defensive end.

Kincade said he last played football seriously in middle school, but the urge to use his speed as a starter on the basketball court by stepping in at receiver made sense.

"It's a lot different throwing helmet and pads on again, but I'm looking forward to a fun year," he said.

Of the five true 2A schools in the Western Slope North League, MCHS is the one to beat this year, and they know Coal Ridge, Aspen, Basalt and Roaring Fork will be coming at them hard, as will the sixth team of the WSNL, the Battle Mountain Huskies counting on conference wins to get into the 3A playoffs.

Before league play, the Bulldogs played a Zero Week game Friday against Steamboat Springs and will host Rifle — which finished last season the state runner-up in 3A ball — and travel to Gunnison — a quarterfinalist in the 2A 2014 brackets — and Ridge View Academy in Watkins, largely the same lineup as last year.

However, Gille anticipates a much tougher contest for the Bears and the Cowboys, which gave the Dogs their worst losses of the season last time around, defeats that nonetheless did not keep Moffat County out of the postseason.

Time will tell if the group will improve on last year's 4-6 overall record, but the way the team has gelled in the last few months is a promising sign.

"We've really worked hard at team bonding and building good relationships this summer," Gille said. "I'm really proud of these kids, and we've been supported really well by so many people in this community."

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

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