Football banquet shows Bulldogs all grown up |

Football banquet shows Bulldogs all grown up

John Vandelinder

2008 Moffat County High School all-conference selections, quarterback Matt Linsacum, from left, running back Pablo Salcido and running back Jasen Kettle pose with the hardware they picked up during the team's annual awards banquet.

Oohs and awes accompanied raucous applause from the darkly lit Moffat County High School auditorium.

In the seats sat more than 100 football players, coaches and proud parents – eyes fixated on a large screen above the stage.

The screen was showing highlights of the 2008 MCHS football season.

There, bigger than life, was Ethan Robinson harassing opposing quarterbacks.

Jasen Kettle making not one, two or three tacklers miss, but what appeared to be more than the 11 required on defense.

Halen Raymond, lowering his head and bowling over the competition.

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Matt Linsacum scrambling – left, right and up the middle – then throwing darts to receivers down field.

Pablo Salcido busting through gaping holes in the offensive line and outrunning everybody – including the camera – to the end zone.

Nathan Tomlin appearing out of nowhere and picking off pass after pass after pass.

And Lyle Schaffner – big No. 44 – blowing up offensive lines, hauling down the opposition like they stole his dinner.

If you missed any of the action on the gridiron this season, you could have seen it last night.

The Bulldogs held their awards banquet Monday evening, an annual tribute to a season gone by.

“This is how we give back to the players and the parents for all they do,” coach Kip Hafey said. “This team really grew. They came in as a bunch of little tiny yearlings and came out as bulls.”

From the moment Hafey walked to the podium, he had the audience’s attention.

“Football,” he started. “It’s one of the manliest sports, or truly the sport closest to combat. Men strategize in a war room and line up against their opponent. Victory is based on a territory game and how well one team outmaneuvers the other. The game involves brute strength and team physicality. It is a hand-to-hand, helmet-to-helmet fight. One man’s struggle against another and yet at the same time, fitness agility and brilliant strategy are necessary for success, and a team lives or dies on solely how well they work together.

“As a team and as a unit.”

Sure, they won four games this season, but what does that really tell you?

Three seniors and a few kids who barely reach 200 pounds each when wet.

If you saw these boys off the gridiron walking down a dark alley, there would be no turning back.

In fact you’d be more likely to find them in the classroom.

Nine of the 22 starters earned all-state academic honors.

And smart football players win games.

Just ask Salcido, Linsacum and Kettle.

Salcido isn’t the fastest guy, Kettle tips the scales at about 135 pounds, and Linsacum hurled passes off one foot most of the year.

But, there the three stood, Western Slope League all-conference hardware in hand, proving size doesn’t matter.

It’s about heart.

“You know, we might not have had the most talented group of kids out there on the field,” Hafey said. “But let me tell you something: Each and every one of those guys on that team gave it everything they had, each and every time they stepped on the field.

“What more could you ask for?”

Maybe a day or two off.

Not quite.

Speed camp starts today at 7:15 a.m. sharp.

“Championships are built in the off-season,” Hafey said. “Ours is only 10 hours long.”