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Moffat County football closes out non-league schedule vs. Pagosa Springs

OLATHE — Hot sun, an unfamiliar field, and an opponent aching for a win after a shutout loss the previous week.

Moffat County High School football had a great deal working against them Saturday afternoon for their final non-conference game, and though it could’ve gone a lot worse, the results were still pretty painful.

Bulldogs took their second straight road loss with a 49-20 defeat to Pagosa Springs, a game that took place on the home turf of a different Pirate crew.

Due to cancellations for both teams — Ridge View Academy for MCHS and Gunnison for Pagosa — the two found themselves matched up and meeting midway between their long distance apart in Olathe.

Now 2-3, Pagosa had only a 31-12 win over Centuari to their names and most recently took a 31-0 beatdown by Basalt, which contributed to their RPI ranking as the 2A team with the strongest schedule thus far.

The Pirates showed they were no slouches with a strong opening drive capped off by a one-yard touchdown to get the lead with only 64 seconds off the clock. Pagosa was right back in the end zone a few minutes end later, with a Bulldog deflection on the PAT making it 13-7.

A 15-yard catch by Kameron Baker got the offense revved up on the next drive, which ended with Cale Scranton snagging a 10-yard grab deep in the end zone from Colby Beaver to get the Dogs on the board.

After sitting out for a week, Scranton said he felt confident getting back on the field, though he was strictly playing offense.

“Shoulder’s feeling a lot better,” he said.

With a successful kick by Joahan Quezada, the six-point difference late in the first quarter was as close as it would get during a long day.

The Bulldog defense brought the hurt on Pagosa’s next possession, getting the Pirates in a tricky position at 4th down and 25 to go. But, a decision to go for it paid off greatly, as Cade Cowan whipped it to Lewis, who made a leaping catch with two yards to the goal line, which Paden Bailey crossed on the next play and Connor Aragon repeated for the two-point conversion to push the lead to 21-7.

A Bulldog fumble gave it back to Pagosa, and it wasn’t long before a reverse to Aragon got another TD from more than 30 yards.

MCHS coach Jamie Nelson noted that the Pirates’ option strategy in the backfield kept the Dogs guessing.

“With their style of offense, it’s hard if you don’t play a disciplined style of defense, you read it wrong and tag the wrong guy,” he said. “The last two weeks we’ve seen offenses that are a little bit different, we don’t settle in until later, and by then we’re down by a couple scores and playing catch-up.”

With a 28-7 tally hanging over their heads, Moffat County came out of the locker room with a new resolve, and following a determined kickoff return by Kevin Hernandez, the Bulldogs bulldozed their way down the field, with Scranton scoring another TD catch, this time from 15.

Pagosa went three-and-out and punted, MCHS did the same and held the Pirates on a crucial four downs as Cowan’s passes just weren’t connecting. But, what Pagosa couldn’t get done on offense, they did on defense as Bailey gained an interception on the very next play.

Though neither side made much of the remaining third quarter, Cowan scrambled for a 15-yard touchdown early in the fourth to make it 34-14 for the Pirates, while Nelson told his players to keep the clock going slowly.

Lengthy receptions by Baker and Josh Teeter were punctuated by a Pagosa penalty after Victor Silva was subjected to a late hit following an incomplete pass.

Once at the goal, Beaver snuck his way in for the Dogs’ final score, with the PAT going wide.

The Dogs suffered a loss to the roster late in the game when a tackle went awry for Kameron Baker, pulled off the field with a possible dislocated shoulder.

Still, the Pirates weren’t done and took advantage of a weary defense with a catch by Bailey that turned into a 54-yard TD, followed by another scoring grab by Javier Marinelarena, who went all the way from midfield with Bulldog pass coverage caught off-guard.

“Some of us were missing our assignments, and it could have gone better, but plays happened good and bad for both teams,” Dario Alexander said. “We always start a little slow, it seems like, and we’re trying to figure out where we can do better.”

Statistically, it wasn’t a bad day for the Moffat County offense, despite the struggles to make it count. Beaver threw 143 yards and was 12 for 22 with one pick, while Scranton’s 63 receiving were complemented by 22 rushing while taking snaps.

Hernandez’s 44 yards came from eight carries, and Teeter caught for 27 and ran for 13. Three catches by Kameron Baker amounted to 41 yards, with 21 for Silva and nine for Alexander.

Pagosa favored sending the ball out of bounds on kicks, though Hernandez and Alexander each had 45 yards in return yardage, with 11 for Teeter.

Defensively, Teeter and Jared Baker each earned a sack against the Pirates, as well as an assist for Beaver being mixed into the secondary. Teeter led the count in tackles with 18 total, nine solo. Drake Doherty was next with nine and Bryson Davis in for seven.

The loss puts Moffat County at 2-2 heading into the 2A Western Slope League schedule, which they will start at 1 p.m. Sept. 29 against Basalt for Bulldog Homecoming.

The Longhorns remained undefeated with a 16-0 win over Paonia, one of five Friday evening games for 2A WSL teams. Basalt and Rifle are each 4-0, with the Bears taking a 27-14 win over rival Glenwood Springs. At 3-1 so far, striving for third are Delta — who tiptoed past Bennett 7-6 — and Aspen, celebrating a 54-16 triumph over Grand Valley.

Meanwhile, Coal Ridge stays at 1-3 after taking a 34-20 defeat on Olathe’s field the night before the Bulldogs.

The Titans will host Rifle Sept. 28, with Aspen visiting the Panthers the same night.

A second consecutive afternoon game means dealing with warm conditions once again, though Nelson said midday games are barely a step up in temperature from after-school practices and summer sessions.

“We’ll keep fine-tuning things as we go, get our offensive protection worked out,” he said. “Back to the grindstone.”

Besting Basalt, the two-time, defending champs of the 2A WSL, will be a tall order, yet Bulldogs are up to the challenge to put the rest of the conference on alert.

“We just need to not get sidetracked and keep on track at practice, focus on the game,” Alexander said.

The way Scranton sees it is the next level is a clean slate to get past any previous mistakes and press forward into the league.

“Everybody’s 0-0 right now,” he said.

Moffat County Fuller Center welcomes new homeowner during Craig Chamber Mixer

CRAIG — “I’m home,” is what Craig resident Lidia Mendoza and her daughter will be saying every day from now on thanks to the Fuller Center for Housing.

The Fuller Center is a nonprofit organization that build homes for families in need with the help of volunteers, according to Moffat County Fuller Center Chapter President Neil Folks, and during a Chamber Mixer held Thursday, the center unveiled its newest home, which came to fruition following a three-and-a-half year project and is now finally ready for support a family.

The house, located on the 700 block of Yampa Avenue, used to be the Simmons Rooming House, Folks said. The owner donated the land to the center, and the materials from the old Simmons house were donated to help with the restoration of the Lay School House. Some of the materials purportedly date back to the 1910s.

“It was a long process,” Folks said. “Trying to find volunteers to take the time building a home is a challenge.”

Mendoza was selected to receive through an application process, Folks said. The process includes background checks and a financial assessment to determine if applicants are able to  support themselves and make payments on the interest-free mortgage.

“We just want to give people a chance to own a home,” Folks said, “especially for people who don’t have much, like some others do.”

Mendoza called her selection a huge blessing. She was at work when she saw a newspaper article about the home and decided to apply. Shortly after, the center asked to interview her and, a month later, asked if she was interested in the home. She acknowledged she wasn’t expecting to be selected and was surprised when she was.

Mendoza, 21, works two jobs to support her 2-year-old daughter, Alalea.

She and her daughter were living in an apartment with her parents. She said being selected to receive the house is an exciting opportunity for her and her daughter.

“I want to thank everyone for giving me a chance and believing in me,” Mendoza said.

Contact David Tan at 970-875-1795 or dtan@CraigDailyPress.com.

Craig Middle School volleyball nets wins in early season

It’s been a back-and-forth start to the season for Craig Middle School volleyball, but Bulldog coaches keep seeing their players moving forward.

A season opener triangular tournament in Steamboat Springs against the Sailors and Soroco saw eighth-grade teams go 2-2 overall.

Service, sets and spikes have been key, as well as being conservative with the ball.

“Three hits has been our goal, and they’ve done well,” eighth-grade coach Bre Ford said.

Bulldogs had their only home games Sept. 13 and 14 against Baggs, Wyoming and Steamboat, respectively.

The Rattlers took three straight 2-0 matches over Craig girls, including eighth-grade A-Team and seventh-grade B- and C-Teams.

“It was still an awesome atmosphere to play in because of so many fans,” Ford said.

The rematches with the Sailors went better for both the eighth-graders and seventh-graders, with a win in three sets and a loss in three for eighth-grade A and B, respectively. The seventh-graders easily swept the Sailors.

“Everything clicked for them, communicating, serves were good,” coach Shaylyn White said.

A Sept. 15 Meeker tournament brought together Craig, Hayden and Rangely, resulting in a tough day for seventh A-Team with dual 2-0 defeats, while B-Team was 1-1 for the day.

“They did really good together, their excitement was high,” White said.

Another three-way tourney is in store this Saturday, with Rifle hosting Craig and Soroco. The following weekend will be a three-state event in Rock Springs, Wyoming, bringing in Rawlins, Craig and Vernal, Utah.

An Oct. 2 match in Baggs will be the final regular game before district tournaments for B-Teams Oct. 4 in Meeker and an A-Team tourney hosted Oct. 6 by East Grand.

Between strong, challenging competitions and the preparation in between, athletes continue to improve daily.

“They’re working really hard in practice, making tremendous amounts of progress and building good fundamental volleyball skills,” Ford said.

Craig Parks and Rec’s Doak Walker football rushing into championship mode

The season has flown by for Craig Parks and Recreation’s Doak Walker tackle football season, with teams moving into the playoff glory.

The third- and fourth-grade division wrapped its regular schedule Wednesday as the 4-0 Hayden Tigers remained undefeated with a 44-14 win over the Jets in Hayden. At the same time at Woodbury Sports Complex, the Chiefs and Broncos kept it closer, with the 3-1 Chiefs claiming the victory 13-7.

Chiefs players will seek a rematch against the only team to defeat them when they face off with Hayden for the championship Sept. 26 at Moffat County High School. The night will start with a third-place match at 6 p.m. between the Jets and Broncos.

In the fifth- and sixth-grade brackets, the 3-0 Saints blanked the Steelers 30-0 Tuesday night, while the older Hayden team hosted the Dolphins, the Tigers falling 20-13.

Teams will play their last regular season games Sept. 25, with the Broncos and Dolphins battling it out to to see who will be the challenger for the Saints, who have all but clinched a spot in the following week’s first-place game.

JP Price scores big with special touchdown during Craig Middle School games with Steamboat

A display of Bulldog toughness could be seen throughout all the players on the gridiron Tuesday evening, but a member of the roster who was on the field for only one play has showed his tenacity again and again in his life.

As part of Craig Middle School football’s games with Steamboat Springs at the Moffat County High School Bulldog Proving Grounds, JP Price scored a touchdown to start the second half of the program’s eighth-grade game.

The 13-year-old, who uses a specialty wheelchair due to Duchenne muscular dystrophy, took to the line of scrimmage for a handoff from his younger brother, Trystan, and headed straight for the goal line.

Though it took all of a moment, it was anything but quiet. Chants of “JP!” echoed down from the stands, while upon making it to the end zone, a firetruck’s siren sounded as members of Craig Fire/Rescue celebrated the TD.

JP’s uncle, Battalion Chief Troy Hampton, was gathered with a bevy of fellow firefighters to honor him, many of whom the boy had joined earlier in the month while raising funds for Muscular Dystrophy Association.

“I think it’s going to get pretty emotional,” Hampton said at halftime, anticipating the display.

JP, teammates, friends and family were all swept up in the good vibes as they all swarmed the man of the hour.

JP’s mother, Krystal Price, said the display was just one of many instances of the community supporting her son, most recently last year helping to raise $12,000 for his Action Trackchair, an all-terrain piece of equipment that allows him greater mobility.

“Everyone has just been amazing,” she said.

To add to the excitement, CMS coach Tony Maneotis surprised JP with the announcement that he would soon be having a meeting with pro football players, namely members of the Denver Broncos.

Though still in the works, Maneotis said he plans to coordinate the special arrangement with Denver’s Fox 31 and Make-a-Wish Foundation.

JP has been a regular contributor to the Bulldog sidelines this season, sporting No. 44 and helping out wherever possible, be it with water duties or just getting his teammates pumped up.

“He has brought a lot of uplift to the team even though he’s going through a tough time right now,” Maneotis said.

Maneotis said he hopes to get as many Broncos as he can past and present to join, including new quarterback Case Keenum, Super Bowl MVP Von Miller and the legend himself John Elway.

JP noted that he especially likes rookie running back Phillip Lindsay’s performance to start this season.

“That’d be really cool,” he said of meeting the pros.

CMS Athletic Director Sara Linsacum was in the throng of people congratulating JP after his touchdown.

“I think what this shows us is that in the game of football, there’s a bigger picture,” she said. “That was great for JP, but I don’t think we realized how many families he’s impacted. That’s what this game’s all about is teamwork.”

Linsacum added that she enjoys seeing the give and take socially with JP in a group dynamic.

“He gets to be built up by them, but they love having him on this team,” she said.

Though the several minutes of the second half practically eclipsed the rest of the game, it was an exciting one nonetheless for the two rivals, as Steamboat eighth-graders kept it close with CMS.

The Bulldogs sweated it out until the last minute, ultimately winning 40-32 in a game where every other score on either side came from a breakaway play of 60 to 70 yards.

Running back Chayton McDonald scored the last TD of the night, one of his shorter ones from about the 30-yard line.

“Feels great,” McDonald said while catching his breath coming off the field. “A lot of good plays, good blocking, good passes.”

The preceding seventh-grade game had a different dynamic but a similar result as Dogs won it 34-12.

The Sailors led 12-0 heading into the late third quarter until a fake punt run by Alexis Barraza moved the chains and proved the turning point, though not without a hard hit.

“I tore my jersey,” Barraza said proudly, motioning to a rip near his shoulder incurred on the trick play.

With the drive saved, Barraza ran it in from six yards and scored almost immediately again with a pick-six, while Noah Duran also turned an interception into a touchdown to close the period with a solid advantage.

CMS kept at it on both sides of the ball through the final eight minutes, much to coach Brice Smith’s approval.

“First half, we were getting a little lazy, sloppy, not doing our jobs,” he said. “Seeing them come out after that, you could tell they were hungry for a win.”

CMS teams will play Saturday in Rifle, a game which coaches believe will be another highlight after seeing players’ capabilities.

“I couldn’t be happier with how this turned out,” Smith said.

Rocky Mountain Machinery holds grand opening in Craig

CRAIG — Machines from Kubota are now in Craig, as Rocky Mountain Machinery’s grand opening Saturday celebrated its partnership with the manufacturer.

Rocky Mountain Machinery owner Bart Brighton said Kubota has machines that cover almost everything, from mowing the lawn to harvesting the crops.  He said he is excited to bring Kubota products to Northwest Colorado and wants to give people more choices as they look for machines to suit their needs.

“There is a good market here in Craig for these machines,” Brighton said. “We have been in this location for about two years.”

The Craig community has been good to the business since it set up shop here, Brighton added.

“We’ve been in Craig for a few years now, and we’ve outgrown our facility,” Brighton said.

He also owns Ag Equipment in Roosevelt, Utah, and said expanding into Colorado was a good way for the business to grow.

Moffat County football falls to Battle Mountain in dogfight road game

EDWARDS — Maybe it was due to two teams with canine nicknames or perhaps that one of them continually ran straight up the middle, but a lot of dog piles were on display during Friday’s matchup between Moffat County High School and Battle Mountain.

Yet, only one side could come out the top of the heap.

MCHS suffered the first defeat of its season with a 36-14 loss to the Huskies in the Bulldogs’ first away game.

Dogging it, for better or worse

The normal travel woes were part of what was working against the Dogs during their first time on the road this fall, though it was far from their only issue upon kickoff.

MCHS received only to go three and out to start, while the Huskies, seeking to rebound from a 47-6 beatdown by Basalt the week before, quickly gaining traction in the run game on the strength of Hezekiah Gongaware, who looked to be proving himself for any scouts in the stands with a 40-yard dash that got Battle Mountain to Moffat’s red zone.

Moments later, Gongaware dove over the goal line from three yards out for the first of many Husky touchdowns.

The Battle Mountain offense came back out in no time thanks to an interception of MCHS quarterback Colby Beaver by Husky Garrett Anderson. Gongaware broke loose again for a rush that would have been another TD had an illegal block not kept the Huskies at the Bulldog 18.

The MCHS defensive line wasn’t having any more of Gongaware’s tactic of ramming right through them, so the Huskies made other moves as QB Traver Goldberg scrambled around them for a 10-yard score.

Another three-and-out led to a bad punt attempt for the Bulldogs as Battle Mountain took over on their 25, getting closer and closer to another TD as the first quarter closed 14-0.

The second period proved to be the Dogs’ most solid as they stood their ground from six yards out to stop the Huskies from converting a fourth down. Though they were forced to punt again, Kameron Baker got the ball back soon with a fumble recovery.

Battle Mountain gained their own turnover shortly after, but a high snap to Goldberg led to almost 20 yards lost and a sack at the 2-yard line. The Huskies punted, but the Dogs marched right back into their territory as Kevin Hernandez sauntered his way to a TD on an 18-yard draw play to make it 14-7.

The Huskies’ next drive stopped short when Dagan White gained his second interception in as many games, yet neither team could do much beyond trading punts. A Hail Mary by Beaver with two seconds on the clock in the half was picked off by Battle Mountain’s Eric Biggs, quickly brought down by incensed receiver Victor Silva.

Bulldogs returned to the stadium determined to make the rest of the game theirs. Unfortunately, no one informed Biggs, who fielded the kickoff return for more than 80 yards and what would ultimately be the game-winning touchdown, with Goldberg scoring the following two-point conversion.

And, the Dogs found that when it rains, it pours, as running backs Hernandez and Teeter came off the field at various intervals with small injuries, while Angel Rodriguez sat out the second half altogether with a possible head injury.

With a shoulder issue from the week before, Cale Scranton was out nearly the full game apart from taking the snap and holding the ball for PAT’s by Joahan Quezada.

Quezada did get a chance at another extra point in the game’s final minute, as Beaver and his receivers started to pick up steam late in the game, with a much-needed fourth down catch by Joe Campagna and a tricky grab right in the end zone by Connor Etzler on the 28-yard throw from Beaver, his longest of the night.

Still, the game was already done at that point, with the Huskies’ Nick Walter scoring twice in the fourth quarter. The first came off a three-yard rush and the second was a pick-six that served as an unamused response to an interception for the Dogs by Silva.

By the numbers

Beaver picked up 93 passing yards, hitting seven of 25 targets, as well as three interceptions. The Bulldog QB also kept the ball eight times, amassing 17 yards.

Jamie Nelson said he is hoping to see Beaver scramble as the season goes on but also be able to better discern when he needs to get out of the pocket.

“Some of those plays were designated and others not, but with the way we’re doing things now, Colby has the ability to run a little bit more,” he said.

Hernandez rushed for 67 yards and caught for six, while Teeter gained 35 on the ground.

Drake Doherty only had two carries for seven yards, but both occasions were crucial to move the chains as the lineman went in as a fullback to add some power to the run game.

“He’ll probably keep me in more as a tackle, but if Coach just feels like doing it for a drive, I’m good. I’ve done it before,” Doherty said.

Campagna and Etzler each had 32 yards, while Dario Alexander had two catches for 23 yards, as well as 66 kick return yards.

In tackles, Teeter and Kameron Baker each had nine total to lead the count with eight for Jared Baker. Campagna and both Bakers all gained sack numbers during the night.

The loss puts the team at 2-1, which should serve as a motivator going forward, the way players look at it.

“This is where you get tested as a team,” Jared Baker said. “No matter what happens, you’ve gotta stay loyal.”

With a number of highlights, Nelson maintained the game was not a matter of failure but one of inconsistency, especially on offense.

“We had a lot of opportunities, but we just couldn’t execute when we needed to. We do things right, we just don’t do them right enough,” he said.

Conference concerns

Moffat County moved to a three-way tie for third in the 2A Western Slope League. Fellow 2-1 teams Aspen and Delta each gained good wins at home as the Skiers crushed Cedaredge 48-12 and the Panthers squeaked past Montezuma Cortez 19-14.

At 1-2, Coal Ridge sits in sixth with a 19-0 loss to Paonia, while Rifle vies for the top spot in the conference at 3-0 after a 35-14 victory over Pueblo County.

Also in the lead is Basalt, who set up another angry opponent for the Bulldogs with a 31-0 defeat of Pagosa Springs, who will be Moffat County’s last non-league foe.

“Pagosa is going to be a strong option team, so we’ve got to be very disciplined on our defense,” Nelson said. “They’ll be ready to go again, but we need to make sure we know our assignments and everything out there.”

The Sept. 22 game with the 1-3 Pirates will be an unusual one for several reasons. The result of last-minute rescheduling following Ridge View Academy backing out of the Bulldog schedule, the match will be on neutral ground at Olathe High School as a midway point between the two schools, which represent the northwest and southwest extremes of the Western Slope.

A Saturday afternoon kickoff will also test if the Bulldogs can handle the mid-day conditions they will also see in their Sept. 29 Homecoming game with Basalt.

Either way, Nelson plans to take it in stride.

“Could be good, could be bad,” he said. “We’ll just have to see.”

Gallery: Moffat County junior varsity football vs. Steamboat Springs

The 21-14 Friday night finish for Moffat County High School varsity football against Steamboat Springs was just a taste of the big meal the younger Bulldogs would have after the weekend.

MCHS’s junior varsity team’s first home game on Monday proved to be just as successful, if not more, as their older teammates, with the JV squad routing the Sailors 54-8.

A powerhouse performance started slowly as Steamboat took a brief lead in the first quarter 8-6. Coaches Shane Hadley and Ben Egger noted that the boys in blue suddenly sprung to life.

“Our guys just decided to show up after that,” Hadley said.

Coaches also added that the game was a good occasion to rotate players regularly to ensure all were getting good field time.

With a 21-0 away win in Frisco the week before, JV is 2-0 and will next travel Sept. 17 to Rifle.

Bingo brings people together at the Craig Elks Lodge

CRAIG — A sandwich board sign goes out each week to remind passersby of the bingo games to be had at the building that boasts a big mural of an elk on the outside and hearts of gold within.

The building is home — the local lodge — to the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks of the United States of America, a nationwide "charitable and patriotic" organization celebrating 150 years of service.

"To Elks, laughter is better than tears, and a kind word more powerful than a frown," according the New Member Guidebook. "The dream of a better world becomes reality when shaped by enough willing hearts and hands."

The local Elks Lodge is known for weekly bingo, giving about $2,000 each year to fund high school scholarships, $4,000 to support area food pantries and running a hoop shoot during basketball season, and volunteering in the community to support its motto: "Elks Care; Elks Share."

Nationally, the organization gives more than $60 million in scholarships, second only to the federal government as a source of funds, for said former exalted ruler of the club Frank Sadvar.

He and his wife, Doris, along with their family — including his daughter, current Exalted Ruler Michelle Gonzales — have kept the club going for the past 10 years on behalf of a little more than 60 "mostly old" members, Sadvar said, adding that more than 50 have enjoyed their 75th birthday.

Age and attitude keep many from actively participating. In the 1970s, the local club boasted 900 members and was a fraternal order. When the lodge began accepting "dues," some members chose to stay home.

"We could get $16,000 for the community if they participated," Sadvar said.

He believes the drop in membership affecting all service clubs reflects a change in society.

"People don't feel the need to give their time to veterans, youth, and the community," he said.

The local lodge was incorporated in 1938 and purchased a one-story building at the corner of Yampa Avenue and Breeze Street in the 40s. A second story was added in 1958.

Sadvar said he still remembers the crane used to lift parts of the building into a place that boasts a full kitchen and, at times, has served as a pool hall, boxing ring, and ballroom. Space is still available for celebrations and celebrations of life.

New memberships and new partnerships are bringing people together for bingo and the club.

For the first time in about nine years, the club has a "full batch of officers," Sadvar said.

In April, the lodge formed a partnership with the American Legion Post 62.

"Both organizations are veteran and community oriented," wrote Legion commander Ed Wilkinson in an April letter to the editor.

Each week, the building is open for bingo. Doors open with food and soda available in the downstairs kitchen, which is sometimes run by Kim Jones, an Elks member who works in food services.

"I come to play bingo, and Doris was zooming around. I decided I wanted to help," she said. That prompted her to join the lodge and take over kitchen duties.

The Elks New Member Guidebook ends by stating: "We have become, in effect, the bedrock upon which all that is good in our nation is built … and will continue. Other segments of our population may weaken or falter in the years to come; we cannot and will not."

Looking around at the regular bingo players, Sadvar said, "I'm really looking forward to new blood in this place. I'm going to do whatever it takes to make this place run."

Membership costs about $69 per year. To learn more and obtain an application, drop by the lodge on Fridays, call 970-824-3557, email craigelks@craig1577.net, or visit elks.org/lodges/contactus.cfm?lodgenumber=1577.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.

Craig Middle School football season opens with glorious victories, crushing defeats

Between the pee-wee level of pigskin and the big-time gridiron of Moffat County High School is the hard-hitting, knock-around sessions of Craig Middle School, and the seventh- and eighth-grade athletes hit the field hard for their first week of competition.

Both squads stood at 1-1 after home games Thursday against Meeker and Saturday against Rawlins, Wyoming.

The seventh-graders took a 20-8 defeat to the Cowboys to kick off their schedule, facing an uphill battle with the Meeker opposition but still gaining a late touchdown on rushing from Jaden Gallegos.

Alternately, the eighth-graders stomped Meeker from the start, going into halftime with a 20-0 lead, riding that all the way to a massive 50-18 victory.

The story was flipped when the Bulldogs hosted the Colts Saturday morning, as the seventh-grade defense yielded little yardage to the Wyoming visitors on their way to a 20-0 shutout.

“Penalties were our biggest concern Thursday and getting in the right position,” coach Brice Smith said. “We still had some troubles with that, but we did a good job running the plays we wanted to run. We definitely hammer fundamentals in and just getting formations right so we don’t get any silly false starts.”

After their big first win, eighth-grade Bulldogs came out confident against Rawlins, only to have nearly everything go wrong offensively in the first half, trailing 12-0.

The third quarter wasn’t much better until Chayton McDonald chewed up more than half the field on a running rampage to get spirits boosted as the period ended.

The group truly showed their grit in the last eight minutes, as Evan Atkin snagged a pass from Cort Murphy to bolt nearly 50 yards for the group’s first TD of the day with about 90 seconds remaining.

Atkins then dove on the onside kick to give possession right back to the Dogs, and a march downfield looked like the boys in blue were about to pull off the comeback, only for a Colt interception and clock management to give it to Rawlins at 12-6.

Though frustrated with the loss, coach Tony Maneotis commended players for keeping it physical late in the game.

“Totally different ball team than Meeker,” he said of Rawlins. “I think the kids came out thinking they wouldn’t be that tough.”

A pass interference call against Atkin that had the Bulldog stands in an uproar may have been one of the deciding factors in the game, though Maneotis added there were plenty more opportunities to make something happen before that.

“Sometime the flag flies our way, sometimes it doesn’t,” he said.

CMS teams will next host Steamboat Springs Sept. 18, and the practice time can only help, Maneotis said.

“We had some guys that got some injuries and that hurts us all. We’ve got good numbers, but we’re weak in some spots. Looks like we might need a little more conditioning.” he said. “We’ll get better, just takes time.”