Don’t be fooled |

Don’t be fooled

Even with losing record, Hornets won't roll over

Before the football game against Rifle three weeks ago, the Moffat County High School coaching staff told its players that they needed to play like the playoffs started that week. The message of inspiration came after the Bulldogs already had secured a spot in the real playoffs, so it may have been hard to get across.

Last week, the Pueblo County coaching staff urged its players to go out and play like it was the playoffs against the Southern League’s second-place team, Alamosa. That message of inspiration was much easier to get across. If the Hornets lost, their season was over.

“We came out and played, by far, our best game of the season,” Pueblo County coach Jeff Wilson said of his team’s 23-7 win. “It was a great game for us, because all season we had so many chances to control our own destiny and we didn’t come through. We finally came through against Alamosa.”

On Saturday, the teams no longer have to pretend it’s the playoffs.

“For (Pueblo County) to dominate Alamosa like they did, they have to be playing well,” Moffat coach Kip Hafey said. “We had a nice win to end the season as well.”

In the Bulldogs’ 54-12 win against Montezuma Cortez, Moffat County made few mistakes. Hafey would like to see that happen again.

“We need to control the ball on offense,” he said. “Pueblo likes to eat up the clock and stay close. Then, at the end of the game, they make a run.”

Running has been the mainstay for the Hornet offense this season. Fullback Justin Sciumbato and running back Joaquin Montano have combined for more than 1,600 yards.

“If we can put together nine-, 10- and 11-play drives, we will obtain game goals,” Wilson said. “We don’t eat up a lot of yards on big plays but we can control the ball.”

After watching game tapes Wilson had sentiments similar to Pueblo West head coach Keith Lane’s in preparation for the Bulldogs.

“This team was big when we played them two years ago, and they’re even bigger now,” Wilson said. “One on one, we are not going to dominate, so we’ll have to do different things at the line.”

Two years ago the situation was different because the Hornets were the best team on paper when they hosted the Bulldogs in the first round of the playoffs. Pueblo County was 9-1 and Moffat was 6-4. This year the Bulldogs are the 9-1 team and the Hornets, at 4-6, are the only team in any class to have a losing record going into the postseason.

The Hornets have been outscored this season 181 to 165. They also have been out-gained 2,607 to 2,524 yards. A statistic that is an advantage to the visiting team from the southeast is the ability to hold onto the ball.

Pueblo County has fumbled only five times and lost one of those fumbles this year.

The Bulldogs have struggled holding onto the ball throughout the year with 32 fumbles, 12 of them lost.

“Everybody says it but it’s true, we’re all 0-0,” Hafey said. “We have to not give up on plays early if we want to be successful. That means we need linemen and receivers 10 to 15 yards down the field keeping their blocks.”

If the Bulldogs can manage a win it will even Hafey’s record in the playoffs at 2-2.

The winner of Saturday’s game will face the winner of Niwot and Evergreen. If Moffat County wins, the team will host Niwot or travel to Evergreen. If the Hornets win, they will host either way.

The kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium.

“I remember watching a playoff game in middle school where they had to bring out extra stands,” Hafey said. “It would be great if we could get that kind of crowd.”

Student and school district passes will not be honored at the game.

Ticket prices are set by CHSAA at $7 for adults, and $5 for students and fans older than 60.

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