How does Moffat County football compare to playoff opponent University? |

How does Moffat County football compare to playoff opponent University?

Andy Bockelman
For the Craig Press
Moffat County students, including football players on the left, sing the school song following a Bulldogs victory this season.
Andy Bockelman / For the Craig Press

It’s time for the second season for Moffat County High School football, the stage of the schedule when every game could be the last for each of the remaining 16 teams in the 2A playoffs.

As the fifth seed in the brackets, MCHS will host the No. 12 squad, Greeley’s University Bulldogs, at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Bulldog Proving Grounds, 900 Finley Lane.

The match-up will determine which school will move on to the 2A quarterfinals and which ends their year.

A look at both teams’ records, statistics, and more show that this will be one of the most evenly matched games MoCo has played this season.

Battle of the Bulldogs, by the numbers

No. 5 Moffat County Bulldogs

Overall record, league record: 8-1, 4-1; 2A West League runner-up

Home record, away record: 5-0, 3-1

Overall scoring, league scoring: 377-93, 192-71

Biggest win: 51-0 vs. Coal Ridge

Closest win: 19-6 vs. Basalt

Closest loss: 17-14 vs. Delta

2A playoff appearances: 2014, 2015, 2019, 2020

Rushing leaders: Evan Atkin, 1,256 yards, 28 touchdowns; Ethan Hafey, 328 yards, 2 TDs; Ryan Peck, 199 yards, 5 TDs

Longest rush: Evan Atkin, 61 yards

Passing statistics: Ryan Peck, 996 yards, 65 for 118, 12 TDs, 6 interceptions

Receiving leaders: Evan Atkin, 336 yards, 3 TDs; Ethan Hafey, 250 yards, 2 TDs; Carson Miller, 186 yards, 3 TDs

Longest reception: Evan Atkin, 84 yards

Defensive leaders: Ethan Hafey, 54 tackles, 7.5 sacks; Evan Atkin, 51 tackles, 2 sacks; Ian Hafey, 43 tackles, 3.5 sacks

Turnovers: 12 interceptions, 11 fumble recoveries, 3 safeties

Special teams: 37 for 45 PATs, 4 two-point conversions, 4 blocked punts, 1 blocked kick

No. 12 University Bulldogs

Overall record, league record: 5-4, 2-3; 2A Patriot West League 4th place

Home record, away record: 1-3, 4-1

Overall scoring, league scoring: 271-211, 125-155

Biggest win: 43-0 vs. Manitou Springs

Closest win: 37-25 vs. Berthoud

Biggest loss: 41-14 vs. Resurrection Christian

Closest loss: 27-20 vs. Eaton

2A playoff appearances: 2016

Rushing leaders: Gunnar Ponzer, 322 yards, 1 touchdown; Greg Garza, 182 yards, 13 TDs; Kanon Padilla, 147 yards, 1 TD

Longest rush: Jacob Cruz, 70 yards

Passing statistics: Greg Garza, 1,855 yards, 126 for 228, 20 TDs, 6 interceptions

Receiving leaders: Tayt Chacon, 588 yards, 5 TDs; Kanon Padilla, 560 yards, 8 TDs; Logan Getting, 409 yards, 4 TDs

Longest reception: Logan Getting, 70 yards

Defensive leaders: Jack Virgil, 66 tackles; Kian Baxley, 59 tackles, 2 sacks; Kanon Padilla, 59 tackles

Turnovers: 9 interceptions, 9 fumble recoveries

Special teams: 13 for 16 PATs, 7 two-point conversions

Now in their eighth season in the division, MoCo’s Bulldogs have had their most productive year yet as a 2A team as they hope to buck the trend of being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. That has happened to them four times since 2014, under three different head coaches.

A fall that has seen the Bulldogs earn three shutouts and force a 40-point running clock mercy rule on four occasions also amounted to the greatest overall point accumulation of any team in the 2A West League.

MoCo had an otherwise undefeated season spoiled, as Delta took the league title, the Panthers allowing the fewest points among conference teams. However, the silver lining of that defeat was showing MCHS where they could improve.

“Losing was a little better for us against Delta because that way we could get a little bit more fire under us to get going,” senior Alex Musgrave said. “Coal Ridge just gave us a little more practice.”

Musgrave and junior Tristan Malvitz were among the athletes who got more playing time in the blowout of the Titans to round out the season. Musgrave was in at nose guard and Malvitz at defensive end throughout the second half.

“I love being on the defensive line, but it kind of just depends on how we’re doing in the game,” Musgrave said of the alignment.

Another moment of the season that gave coaches some insight was a 62-35 home game with Aspen. Though the Bulldogs had their highest-scoring finish and led the night 36-7 heading into intermission, the second half was a shootout as the Skiers gained four more touchdowns on some defensive lapses, the only team to score more than two TDs against the Craig crew.

“Aspen, (the Bulldogs) just lost a little bit of focus, and credit to them for coming out in the second half and scoring like that,” head coach Lance Scranton said.

Scranton said discipline is the name of the game going forward, and players have heard the message loud and clear as they host University.

“We really want to stay more disciplined and focus on running our plays a little better,” Musgrave said. “It’ll be a challenge, but I think as long as we come out on top and we don’t get flat, we’ll be good.”

Malvitz agreed.

“We want to keep on the gas and don’t let off for any reason,” Malvitz said. “If you mess up a play, don’t hang your head about it, just get right back up and keep going.”

Part of one of the strongest leagues in the state, University has routinely come up short in postseason qualification year after year. Their last time making the cut was in 2016 — with more than a decade of playoff drought before that — which resulted in a 42-0 blowout by La Junta.

None of this current University roster was playing back then, and even with a middling record in the 2A Patriot West League, this group has shown it’s capable of making good teams sweat.

In a league game against Eaton — the defending state champs and the No. 1 seed in the 2A playoffs — University nearly snapped the Reds’ winning streak before Eaton answered back in the fourth quarter to win it 27-20.

“They’re a big team, they’re a tall team. They play really tough,” Scranton said.

University’s roster includes several towering receivers and a lineman who stands 6-foot-7 and 280 pounds. But quarterback Greg Garza will be the one to watch, with over 1,800 passing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns to his name.

However, Garza has yet to run more than 12 yards on a single play, and the majority of University’s TDs have come in the red zone, a defensive scenario in which Moffat County has shone repeatedly this season.

Scranton said his team has consistently played well in the midfield, but especially so when their backs are right up against their own end zone. They’ve also been able to adapt to teams switching up their strategy.

“Bend, don’t break; that’s our philosophy,” Scranton said.

Scranton noted that while pleased with the 8-1 record MoCo has been able to compile, he’s not putting too much stock in it.

“It’s a confidence booster, but once playoffs start, records kinda go out the window. It’s time to go big or go home,” he said.

The MCHS coaching staff includes Scranton, Kip Hafey, Brayden Peterson, Seth Watson, Nick Colgate and Shane Hadley.

Colgate heads up the special teams unit, which includes a number of athletes whose game time is wholly in that function. Apart from allowing one kickoff return touchdown, they’ve kept opponents contained in that respect.

“Our kids take a lot of pride in that. I think they’re definitely motivated on that team to show what they have,” Colgate said.

Hadley coaches the C-Team part of the program and also broadcasts online during gametime. Throughout this week, he’s been pleased with the amount of people who have expressed their encouragement and excitement about what the next round will bring.

“I’m excited for this community to have something joyous and awesome for these kids and their parents. I really hope that we fill the stadium,” Hadley said.

Gameday information

Moffat County High School Student Council is hosting a tailgate party as part of Bulldog varsity football’s postseason kickoff.

The pregame event will take place in the southwest corner of the MCHS parking lot from 11:30 a.m. Saturday until game time at 1 p.m.

Concessions such as hot dogs and chili will be available as well as games such as cornhole and grass volleyball.

Saturday’s playoff game will have different admission, per CHSAA rules and regulations.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens.

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