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Leading by example

J.T. Haddan looks to step up for Bulldogs

Luke Graham
J.T. Haddan works on speed and agility drills during football practice Monday. Haddan will be one of 15 seniors expected to lead the Bulldogs this year in a tough Western Slope League.
Luke Graham

J.T. Haddan has always been the type of player who’s showed up and performed.

For five years – from junior high to high school football – that’s what he has done and done at a high level.

But as he enters his final high school season, the 230-pound fullback knows he might have to do a little more.

Mainly, be a leader.

A shy and reserved guy off the field, Haddan does a complete 180-degree turn when he steps on it.

“I’m just different (on the field) I guess,” Haddan said after the first full practice of the season Monday. “I don’t know how to explain it.”

Haddan’s never had to explain his production.

Although Nick Navratil got the bulk of the load in the backfield last year, Haddan finished third in rushing, second in receptions and led the team in tackles from his linebacker position.

With Navratil departing to wrestle at Adams State College in Alamosa, Haddan will be looked upon to help carry the load for the offense.

However, the weight of the season doesn’t solely rest on Haddan’s bull-like shoulders.

Moffat County returns 15 seniors, including lineman Travis Wilson, wide receiver/cornerback Paul Nelson and offensive linemen Austin Hill and Dillon Guinn.

The Bulldogs advanced to the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs last season, and the 15 seniors are looking to go further.

“Long term, we want to make it to the state championship,” Wilson said, noting the seniors have really taken to their roles as leaders. “Our short-term goal is to make it to the state playoffs again.”

It’s a group Moffat County head coach Kip Hafey plans to lean heavily on.

With a tough league schedule – including a three-game stretch against Palisade, Eagle Valley and Steamboat Springs – Hafey said the seniors will be expected to lead the Bulldog charge.

“We have good senior leadership,” Hafey said Monday. “We’ve got tough coaches and tough kids.”

Although the emphasis will be on winning, Wilson said the big picture of their senior year isn’t lost on them.

The Bulldogs want to have fun, he said, but when you’re winning you’re usually having fun.

“It’s one of those things,” Wilson said, “you never forget.”


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