Moffat County football burns Coal Ridge to cap off Homecoming Week
CRAIG — The name of the beloved sports movie may be “Remember the Titans,” but Moffat County High School varsity football has already forgotten their latest opponent with the same name was a threat.
MCHS moved to 2-0 in the 2A Western Slope League with a 14-10 win against New Castle’s Coal Ridge High School Friday as part of Bulldog Homecoming.
The boys in blue took to the field full of energy, but it was the Bulldog mascot who made a grand entrance, courtesy of a helicopter from Classic Air Medical to set the tone for a thrilling night.
Some early jitters set in as the Dogs received the opening kick, but gave up the ball in only three plays when Coal Ridge’s Brandon Herrera picked off quarterback Colby Beaver at the Moffat County 47. A quick drive in the opposite direction ended with a Jacx Power touchdown from 11 yards out. A successful PAT put the Titans in front 7-0 less than four minutes into the game.
MCHS senior Miki Klimper noted that he kept tabs on Power all night long.
“I was told to spy on him the whole time, because he really is their top player; he’s a great running back, there’s no doubt about it,” Klimper said.
It didn’t take long for the Bulldogs to get back on their feet, however; a 10-yard catch by Cale Scranton earned the first of many first downs, but it was a grab by Klimper that turned into a 52-yard reception and the score. The accompanying kick by Axeel Mendoza tied things up.
The Titans punted, unable to get past the 50 on the next drive, but another interception, this time by Raul Ramirez, gave it back to Coal Ridge.
However, turnovers were prevalent on both sides, and Bryson Davis seized on a fumbled snap by Titan quarterback Oscar Salazar to recover for the Dogs.
Sticking to the ground game, Moffat County soon found itself at the 1-yard line, with Jefferson Piatt ramming through the gap for another TD. Mendoza again split the uprights.
Coal Ridge would fumble once more, as Alex Nevarez dove on the ball while getting a good knock on the helmet to come out briefly, yet the Titans answered with another snatch from the air by Herrera. But, just when it looked as though the visitors would make it to the end zone, Klimper gained his own interception mere feet from the Bulldog goal line to end the first half.
The MCHS marching band took the field with a medley of rock songs by Queen, appropriately enough, beginning with arena anthem “We Will Rock You.”
Following was the Homecoming royalty coronation, including honored faculty Seth Watson and Mila Khoroosi, freshmen Kreece Papierski and Kelsey McDiffett, sophomores Josh Gumber and Lexi Weber and juniors Hali Reyes and Jared Baker.
Seniors Jacob Briggs and Jaci McDiffett donned the regalia of king and queen.
Briggs, also the student body president, joked that he’s already thinking of a campaign for prom king.
“I might have to try for the three-peat,” he said with a laugh.
A routine by the MCHS spirit squad completed the halftime festivities, as players returned to the turf, Coal Ridge eager to avenge last year’s loss to the Dogs, when Moffat County held the Titans to a field goal in a 28-3 defeat.
The Titans began their drive from the 16, but caught a break when Salazar sidestepped a tackle by MCHS’s Colby Beckett to complete a 30-yard pass to Michael Taylor, a play that had Beckett so distraught he came off the field.
It was a pep talk by Piatt that brought his spirits back up. He charged back into the game, promptly sacked Salazar for a loss of 10 and the Titan backfield was crushed again on the following play.
“He really got me going again,” Beckett said of his teammate.
Coal Ridge didn’t dare go for it on the subsequent 4th and 30, but they weren’t letting up on Moffat County after the punt either, their defense forcing a Bulldog punt on 4th and 19.
A crucial stop by Greg Hixson at the 7-yard line on the Coal Ridge return only made the Titans amp up their rushing game, and as the third quarter came to a close, they had their sights set on a score.
The Titans made it to the Bulldog 8, yet the Dogs pushed back to hold their territory. Coal Ridge opted for the 25-yard field goal.
A huge kick return by Scranton was negated by offsetting penalties, and the resulting redo saw the Titans try an onside kick. Both sides piled on the ball, but the officials gave it to Moffat County at the Titans’ 48.
A deep pass to Klimper that was ruled out of bounds was the Dogs’ only big play as they were forced to punt, and the Titans found a break with an untimely Moffat County pass interference call that put them at their opponents’ 38.
It was then the MCHS linemen made their final stand with less than two minutes remaining , and though the Titans made it as far as the 30, that would be as far as they’d go in a night defined by Bulldog defense.
“That really came down to the line, right to the last drive,” lineman Toryn Hume said happily once the clock had run out. “Once we plug it up, they got nothing.”
Klimper led in tackles with 25. Beckett had 18, Nevarez and Hixson 12 each and Josh Teeter 11.
Dominic Pascetti led in total rushing yards with 66 on 12 carries. Nevarez had 31 yards on eight attempts, Klimper 12 from one run and Teeter 10 yards on two rushes.
MCHS and Coal Ridge each move to 3-3 overall, though the 0-2 Titans have yet to win in conference. The Titans next travel to Basalt to face the Longhorns, who now lead the WSL following a 48-22 thrashing of their Aspen rivals.
Moffat County’s next home game will be Oct. 20 against Basalt, but a road match against Steamboat Springs comes first. The Sailors picked up their first win of the season with a 42-0 drubbing of Roaring Fork, which has been the whipping boys of the Western Slope at 0-6.
Moffat County opened league play with a 61-6 trouncing of the Rams, but regardless of any opponent’s record, Beckett said every game deserves no less than full effort.
“We’ve just got to keep grinding, keep working hard for the rest of the season,” he said.
It was one of the longest days Moffat County High School volleyball players have experienced this season, but by the end of Saturday, the effort was worth it all.