After win in Wyoming, Moffat County football feeling positive approaching league slate |

After win in Wyoming, Moffat County football feeling positive approaching league slate

From left, Moffat County junior Ethan Schaaf and senior Isaac Vallem stick with their blocking as teammate Bryant Carlson makes an end run against Rawlins, Wyoming on Friday, Sept. 16.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

The first half of the Bulldog football season is complete, and as Moffat County athletes take a week off from gridiron competition, players and coaches are eyeing the next run of the schedule, which carries even more weight.

MCHS wrapped up the non-league portion of the season with a 3-1 record after a 34-22 road win over the Outlaws of Rawlins, Wyoming.

The Dogs led for nearly the full evening, with a 21-8 halftime lead that included quarterback Cort Murphy twice edging his way into the end zone and fellow senior Max Noland shining on special teams with an 82-yard punt return touchdown.

In the second half, Noland also scored on a 30-yard pass from junior Evan Beaver, while junior Bryant Carlson ran a counter play for four yards and MoCo’s final TD at the start of the fourth quarter.

Head coach Lance Scranton noted that his defense held up well against a Rawlins run game that quickly got repetitive and also made for an early night.

“They’re not a passing team, and they’ve a first-year coach running the kind of offense that chews the clock,” Scranton said Friday. “Rawlins showed up tonight, though. They made fewer mistakes than us.”

After the weekend’s events, Moffat County found themselves back in the CHSAA Top 10 rankings voted on by coaches across the state. In addition to being 10th in the polls, the Dogs also stood at 11th among 2A teams in the RPI results that will help determine the postseason.

Moffat County punt returner Max Noland zips past his own sideline and keeps going toward a touchdown against Rawlins, Wyoming on Friday, Sept. 16.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

Though a 36-6 loss to Resurrection Christian started off the season on shaky footing, MCHS has been on a good streak since, including a 33-20 win over Steamboat Springs and a narrow 18-15 victory in Bayfield showing the team’s capabilities.

Now experiencing a bye week, the Dogs will jump headlong into the league schedule with goals of continued improvement.

Moffat County quarterback Cort Murphy makes a dive for the end zone against Rawlins, Wyoming on Friday, Sept. 16.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

“Three’s a streak, so we’ll want to keep that going,” Scranton said. “We’re going to try on alignment and assignment. We’ve had too many mental mistakes and we need to get better. We’re a little more beat up than we’re used to being, but things are good.”

Though injuries have affected the roster, spirit is higher than ever among teammates new and old.

In addition to anchoring the offense, Murphy has been invaluable on defense as one of the league leaders in tackles with 44 to date. Senior Michael Voloshin is also among the best in the West in sacks with 2.5 so far.

After taking his junior year off from the sport, senior Kaden Hixson has been going strong in the backfield, getting his first varsity touchdown and another to match during the Bayfield game.

Moffat County football coach Lance Scranton instructs players during a timeout against Rawlins, Wyoming on Friday, Sept. 16.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

Hixson has been competing with sophomore Aron Aguilar for carries, though the younger Bulldog leads the team in yardage at 312.

However, Hixson is barely keeping track of numbers, ending the Rawlins game with a backflip contest among teammates.

The Moffat County sideline observes their lead on the scoreboard against Rawlins, Wyoming on Firday, Sept. 16.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

“It’s been so much fun, I’m really glad to be back,” he said. “It’s just about having fun with my friends and the last time playing football with my seniors.”

Upcoming 2A West opponents

All game dates and times are subject to change.

7 p.m. Sept. 30 — Rifle (1-2), Home

After earning a state championship in the springtime season of the readjusted 2020-21 school year, the Bears have struggled to retain their former might, with the Bulldogs defeating them last October for the first time since 2010.

A run-heavy offense is led by senior Nicholas Saldivar with 341 yards and two touchdowns, while quarterback Logan Gross has averaged 72 passing yards per game with four interceptions hurting his rating.

7 p.m. Oct. 7 — Coal Ridge (2-2), Away

Coal Ridge senior Brandon Short is averaging triple digits, with 374 rushing yards across his first three games and four TDs to stay among the top of the league statistics, as well as the longest run yet at 78 yards. The Titan passing game has been limited so far, though so have turnovers with only one interception.

On defense, sophomore Grayson Isenhart has been their heavy hitter with 34 tackles in their first three games.

7 p.m. Oct. 14 — Basalt (4-0), Home

According to stats from their first three games, senior Cooper Crawford is making a case for being the best running back in the conference with 312 yards, while senior Dylan Maddox leads the squad and the league with 205 receiving yards.

Basalt coaches haven’t been shy with letting multiple players pass with five Longhorns accruing throwing numbers, and while interceptions have been few, offensive fumbles have been frequent with five already.

7 p.m. Oct. 21 — Aspen (1-2), Home

The Skiers gave MoCo one of their trickier games last season in a high-scoring 62-35 W for the Bulldogs and will no doubt look to take the win this time.

Aspen is far more reliant on passing than any other school in the 2A West, with senior QB Nate Thomas gaining 328 yards in their first two games alone.

7 p.m. Oct. 28 — Grand Valley (2-1), Away

A balanced offense is led in rushing by senior Jordan Cedeno with 284 yards and three TDs, and a combined 268 passing yards by QBs Steven Hicks and Andrew Horner has been spread around equally with senior Colton Clark claiming 80 of those yards.

The Cards aren’t bluffing in terms of defense either; they already have seven sacks among them, along with four interceptions and an absolute beast in senior Jacob Doyle, who’s amassed 41 tackles, four for loss.

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