Craig Middle School football holds tight against Rifle to end season
CRAIG — The measure of one-tenth of a second can be a nightmare for the head of a football team, as one single play decides a win or loss. Suffice it to say, Craig Middle School coaches can sleep soundly after their games Saturday.
CMS football’s final event of the season — held at Moffat County High School — was a nail-biter, to be sure, as a faceoff with the Rifle Cubs gave the Bulldogs dual wins, the second of which could have gone either way.
The eighth-grade squad was ahead 24-22 with 40 seconds to go, and a well-played game was about to go in the books, when a mishap to run out the clock resulted in a midfield fumble and a turnover that gave it back to Rifle with 16 seconds remaining at about the CMS 45-yard line.
The Cubs tried rushing, they tried passing, and though the Bulldog defense stayed tight to deny a first down, it wasn’t until the final fraction of a second had elapsed on Rifle’s final play, and Norman Cruz had dragged down their running back, that the blue and white players allowed themselves to celebrate.
“They were a tough team, but they all did great,” Cruz said of his teammates.
Coach Tony Maneotis was bursting with pride in referring to the “leftover” Homecoming energy in the crowd that rivaled the spectators of Friday’s MCHS win over Coal Ridge.
“That’s how we play football in Craig, Colorado!” he exclaimed.
The seventh-grade Bulldogs certainly set the tone early, shutting out the Cubs 22-0.
Billy Lawton scored the team’s final TD on a draw play up the middle, with Chayton McDonald vaulting over Rifle defenders on the goal line for the final two points.
The two said there is no doubt they’ll be back for the sport next fall.
“I hope everybody comes back to play,” Lawton said.
CMS seventh-graders finished the season 6-1-1, the tie a result of a halftime rainout during a home game against Steamboat Springs.
Though they faced multiple schedule changes and wound up with fewer games, eighth-grade ended 5-1.
“The kids have played good all year; they had some cancellations, but they showed heart and always showed up to play ball,” Maneotis said.