Moffat County starts league play against physical Panthers |

Moffat County starts league play against physical Panthers

David Pressgrove

Starting tonight, everybody in the Class 3A Western Slope League has the same record.

That's the message Moffat County High School head football coach Kip Hafey and his staff delivered to their team this week. The Bulldogs, 1-2, travel to Delta, 2-1, today to start the games that really matter.

"It doesn't get any easier for us," Hafey said, citing the next three teams his Bulldogs face (No.5 Delta, No. 2 Palisade and No. 9 Glenwood) are ranked in the top 10 in the state. "But right now everyone has a clean slate."

Delta was the surprise team of the Western Slope last year. The Panthers started 1-2, but won their next eight games, including a first-round playoff game.

"(Delta) showed last year that they are the real deal," Hafey said.

Preparing for Patton

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Senior Michael Patton was a key to the Panthers' success last year.

He ran for more than 1,200 yards and was the middle linebacker for one of the league's best defenses.

"They are a big, physical team," Hafey said. "Their two running backs are big bruisers."

A 34 – 7 loss to Pueblo Central ended Delta's season in 2009. In the first quarter of that game, Patton injured his knee. In last week's loss to Belen, N.M., Patton went down with a knee injury again.

Delta's coach, Ben Johnson, did not return an email requesting an interview to comment on Patton's injury.

"We are going to prepare for Patton," Hafey said. "I haven't heard either way about his injury. He's the best back in the league if he's healthy."

To prepare for a big, bruising team like Delta, Hafey said his defense has been working to get a good push at the line.

Additionally, "we need to get a lot of people to the ball," he said.

Sophomore starters

Both teams start sophomore quarterbacks: Bubba Ivers for MCHS and Mitchel Whiteside for Delta.

"Bubba has grown every game," Hafey said. "He spent a lot of time this week looking at game film with me during lunch. This will be the first game that he will help the offensive line pick up blocks and blitzes."

Even with work on the passing game, Bubba and the Bulldogs hope to establish their running game early.

Hafey said the ability to get the running game going was a key to the team's first victory of the season last week against John F. Kennedy High School.

Hafey said that he expects Delta to try to do the same. But he also noted that from the film of Delta's win against Montezuma-Cortez, Whiteside could also air it out. He went on to say that the Panthers have some outside speed as well as a return man that makes people miss.

Delta's Homecoming

Any road trip in the Western Slope Leauge is into hostile territory, but this week will be even more of a test because it's Delta's homecoming.

"They will have everyone there dressed in green and white, getting loud," Hafey said. "We really hope to take their crowd out of it early."

The Bulldogs and Panthers are scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m.

Game at a glance

7 p.m. today at Delta High School, 1400 Pioneer Road

Moffat County (1-2 overall, 0-0 in Western Slope League) versus No. 5 Delta – (2-1, 0-0 in WSL)

Keys to the game

From head coach Kip Hafey:

• Get physical — Delta is a big, physical team, so Hafey said his defensive and offensive lines have been working to get off the ball fast this week.

• Bubba’s maturation — Hafey said sophomore quarterback Bubba Ivers has improved every week and that he expects this week to be no different. Lunch period has included a healthy helping of film for Ivers this week, so Hafey hopes his sophomores steady diet of video will pay off.

• Establish the run — If the Bulldogs’ backs, Braeden Sullivan and Mason Updike, as well as Ivers, can eat up some yards early, it will open up the passing game to the likes of tight end Brady Conner and wingback Miguel Molina.

• Avoid road woes — Since it is homecoming week for the Panthers, Hafey said it is important for his team to not be sluggish at the start. His hope is that his team can take the crowd out of it fast with some early success.

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