Moffat County fall coaches weigh in on sophomore season leading Bulldogs
The fall sports season is already underway for Moffat County High School teams, with the first official day of practices Monday, Aug. 12.
The kickoff to the schedule marks the second year heading MoCo squads for several coaches: volleyball’s Jessica Profumo, football’s Jamie Nelson, and boys soccer’s Nathalie Boelen.
As athletes get in gear for the months to come, those that will be guiding them along the path to sports glory expect big things from the older and younger competitors alike.
Setting sights on stronger season
Profumo’s first year heading the Lady Bulldogs on the volleyball court finished with a 5-15 tally, as well as some considerable turnover with six seniors graduating.
Still, even the 2018 struggles have had their positive outcome, and the greater amount of time she’s spent with players has allowed her to get a better sense of their capabilities.
In the past week, tryouts and early practices have given Profumo an indicator of how returning players will fit on the varsity roster, as well as how incoming players will excel.
“We’ve had a lot of freshmen coming to open gyms this summer,” she said.
The three tiers — varsity, junior varsity and C-Team — aren’t cemented, though coaches have already seen athletes who rise to the occasion to be be starters once the season gets serious.
“We have a strong squad from top to bottom,” Profumo said.
She added that the girls she oversaw last year “understand the game better” to the point where she’s been able to alter the gameplan when needed, especially compared to last season when adjustments were trickier.
“It lets us be a lot more creative, change things up on the fly, and run a faster offense,” she said.
Profumo has four seniors ready to go, with one more hopeful to recover from a summertime injury later in the season.
The Bulldogs host Hayden Tuesday, Aug. 27 and Steamboat Springs Aug. 29 before a Soroco tournament that weekend.
“They’re fired up for those first games,” Profumo said.
The season opener for MCHS football is Sept. 6 on the road against Summit. With another bus trip following to Steamboat the week after that, the home crowd will have to wait until Sept. 20’s match with Battle Mountain to hit the bleachers at the Bulldog Proving Grounds.
Still, Nelson’s players have been anticipating the start of gameplay much longer, with summer camps and tournaments getting them ready.
Nelson’s first year coaching in Craig saw the Dogs at 3-6 overall and 1-4 in the cutthroat 2A Western Slope League. With a bevy of last year’s seniors moving on and only six members of this season’s team part of the Class of 2020, the coaching staff has been working to prepare for what’s to come with a squad that’s on the young side.
Nonetheless, it’s been easier going, Nelson said, primarily thanks to greater time spent together.
“The big thing is our players from last year know the system now,” he said. “The complexity of what we could do in the earlier days is much greater now. With coaches, we’re more familiar each other now, too, and we can roll things easier. We don’t have to talk as much, we can just coach.”
Positions are still uncertain, Nelson said, with the first full-contact practice coming up Saturday likely to give him an idea of athletes’ strengths and stamina and how the team can utilize them.
The football program has hosted Spartan Week since Monday on the MoCo campus, which includes sessions on the playing field, plus nightly team dinners with parents involved as well.
“They’re a lot more comfortable with each other. The camaraderie is awesome, and we’re gelling a lot better, especially as an offense with efficiency,” Nelson said. “Everything is just clicking.”
Now in her second calendar year at MCHS, this fall will mark the third sports season for Boelen with the Bulldogs, having run the boys soccer program in 2018 and the girls team earlier this year.
A 2-13 record for the boys last fall was an eye-opener, with wins coming late in the year, and while last year was an introductory period, Boelen said she does not plan to go easy on players, though they’ll thank her later.
“I feel like my approach is different, and I’m trying to be a little bit stricter,” she said. “I’m hoping that discipline is gonna pay off for the boys.”
Since beginning official practices, Boelen has seen an influx of new athletes come out to the field, which is encouraging with a roster that fluctuated last season.
MCHS boys will scrimmage the Colorado Northwestern Community College women’s team at 3:45 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20, which Boelen said will give her an idea of how everything fits together and the team’s level of intensity.
Boelen added that a huge turnout during the summer by middle school athletes — many of whom will start eighth-grade this fall — shows that she’ll have an even greater pool of players in the coming seasons.
“I’m really excited to see them come up to the high school level,” she said.
Craig Press will have more on fall sports.