Moffat County football boasts big stats heading into last non-league game
With the program currently in the final week of its best early season in a decade, the Moffat County High School varsity football team seeks to make its final statement before heading into 2A Western Slope League competition.
With kickoff at 11 a.m. Saturday, a rare morning game coming up this weekend sees the Bulldogs bring in the Pagosa Springs Pirates, their first 2A opponent and their last foe before five straight weeks of conference games.
Pagosa — which agreed to the scheduling only for a Saturday game to offset the seven-hour drive from southwest Colorado — is currently 1-3 this season, most recently hosting MoCo’s fellow WSL team Basalt in a 39-19 loss.
The Pirates’ schedule so far has included a hellish opener in Durango — shut out 47-0 by the Demons — a closer loss of 19-7 at the hands of Junta, and their first win, 28-20 over Centauri.
Pagosa finished 2018 at 3-6 — fifth among six teams in the 2A Intermountain League — taking their most sizable victory against Moffat County at 49-20, a game which took place in Olathe for neutral ground to lessen travel for the two teams.
While last year’s meet-up — also on a Saturday — did not favor the Dogs, MCHS coach Jamie Nelson is expecting bigger and better things for his team this time.
Pagosa has not listed any team statistics on high school sports website MaxPreps. However, Basalt’s numbers from the match show the Longhorns had 152 receiving yards and 226 rushing, as well as 3.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and a blocked punt against the Pirates.
Though they’ve barely been in the conversation for coach rankings so far, the Bulldogs escalated near the top of the 2A Ratings Percentage Index by Colorado High School Activities Association following their 36-34 double overtime win against Battle Mountain, sitting at No. 2.
Three straight wins against 3A teams helped the MoCo numbers within the RPI system, which helps determine the postseason based on win percentage, opponent’s wins, and opponent’s opponent’s wins.
With Arvada currently in the top spot, right behind MCHS are Rifle in third and Basalt fourth.
At 19th, Pagosa Springs could shake up the Bulldogs’ standings drastically, should the Pirates win Saturday.
Game film has shown coaches and players that the Pirates run a much different playbook than their most recent opponent.
“The thing with Pagosa is they’re a triple option team, and we’ve been disciplined on our defense, but we’ve got to change what we do a little bit so they don’t know where we’re going to be every time,” Nelson said. “Battle Mountain blitzed a ton, and Pagosa doesn’t blitz at all. We’ve had to totally shift gears this week.”
Still, Pirates will have to contend with MoCo athletes who are among the leaders in the WSL stat categories.
Ryan Peck has the most passing yardage and yards per game in the conference, with 475 across the Dogs’ first three outings.
The win over the Huskies also saw him picked off three times, though Nelson said he expects the experience will only make his starting quarterback better.
“Ryan’s very resilient, he lets things go, and he’s constantly learning and growing, so he’ll take that and keep going forward,” he said.
Dario Alexander’s breakout game with Battle Mountain put him at second place in the league for receiving yards, with 172 so far, just behind Basalt’s Jackson Rappaport. On the ground, Kevin Hernandez sits third in WSL rushing yardage, 291, behind Rifle’s Levi Warfel and Coal Ridge’s Damian Spell.
Defensively, Joe Campagna is third in both total tackles (32) and sacks (3), while Dagan White is one of only two players in the conference to have two interceptions at this point in the season.
Though his mind is on the nearest game, the start of the league schedule can’t help but pop into Nelson’s mind, including the fact that three other 2A WSL teams — Rifle, Basalt, Delta — are 3-0 to start, not to mention that Delta has yet to surrender a point and that Rifle has been at the top of the CHSAA rankings based on coaches’ votes.
Likewise, he noted Coal Ridge’s stalwart nature and Aspen’s weathering of quarterback issues that will likely turn around the Skiers’ 1-2 year come conference time.
“In our league, everybody’s so good, they’re all going to be competitive,” he said. “We’ve got our hands full.”