Moffat County football mixes it up with Aspen for Homecoming
With no fewer than 10 total combined turnovers on the night, you can’t say the defensive effort between Moffat County High School and Aspen didn’t make for an exciting Homecoming spectacle.
However, one side’s offense effort was clicking just as much as their D, and it was reflected in the scoreboard.
MCHS football fell Friday night to the Skiers 28-0 as part of Bulldog Homecoming, a game marked by high energy in the stands and on the field and perhaps a little too much anxiety for athletes.
Following the delivery of the game ball by Classic Air Medical and community representative Dwight Siverson — a retired Moffat County teacher and regular Bulldog sports photographer — MoCo players received the opening kickoff, a surprisingly short one off the tee from the Skiers that let them start at the 50-yard line.
Though their opening drive went three and out before the punt, the Dogs had another shot as Aspen fumbled early with the Moffat recovery, but no sooner had the home offense taken over on the gridiron when their own flub gave it back to the Skiers.
Possession flip-flopped moments later as Aspen quarterback Tyler Ward put a target near the Skier sideline only to be picked off by Bulldog Blake Juergens.
And, in keeping with the pattern, MoCo lost the pigskin again to hand it to the Skiers to close a scoreless opening period.
The turnovers slowed in the second quarter, and despite catches by Kameron Baker and Dario Alexander and repeated rushing by Kevin Hernandez getting the chains moving, an Aspen sack forced a Bulldog punt.
Hernandez’s kick put Aspen only two yards from their own goal line, with MoCo forcing the Skier boot. When the Bulldogs were forced to kick it back a few downs later, Aspen started from their own 12 on a drive that saw their breakout play of the evening as Ward bombed it downfield for more than 60 yards.
Though the Bulldogs put up a fight in the red zone, Skiers scored their first touchdown on a 14-yard pass, plus the two-point conversion to make it 8-0 with a minute remaining in the first half and the Dogs unable to even it up in their minimal time left.
Following the Bulldog spirit squad’s routine and the Homecoming royalty ceremony, players were back on the field, and so was the turnover aura.
Aspen fumbled on their first play of the half, and the Bulldog recovery resulted in the Dogs the closest they would be to the end zone as they would get during the night, stopped at the 10.
Another Skier drop and MoCo grab was déja vu all over again as the subsequent Bulldog fumble kept the Aspen offense primed, leading to a drive that ended with Skier Jack Seamans diving into the Bulldog end zone from four yards out as Aspen moved to 16-0.
From there, though the Dogs made a big stand late in the third quarter to prevent another Aspen TD, the fourth period went from a slippery slope to worse as the Skiers picked off Ryan Peck twice, forced another Bulldog fumble and put 12 more points on the board to end the evening with a stinging shutout for Moffat County.
“Wish the score was a little bit different, but we played very well as a team and came out to play, but the scoreboard didn’t go our way tonight,” said senior Dagan White, who noted the highlight of his night was the Homecoming King title.
White had 19 yards on three catches, with Alexander reeling in three for 28. Baker, Hernandez, Ethan Hafey and Taran Teeter each added yardage with one catch in a night where Peck was 11 for 27 in passing for a total 74 yards.
With 22 carries for 94 yards, Hernandez was again the Dogs’ go-to rusher, though apart from a 30-yard jaunt, Aspen was able to successfully keep him slowed. Alexander also added 10 on the ground and Donnie Quick 19 in the game’s final seconds.
With fumble recoveries by Quick, Logan Hafey and Joe Campagna, the Dogs also had three tackles for loss, with Teeter leading the numbers with 10, followed by Campagna with nine and seven for Logan Hafey.
“Defense was phenomenal, but you huck and chuck and throw it downfield enough times, you’re going to see some of those turnovers,” MCHS coach Jamie Nelson said.
Though Aspen is notorious for relying on a passing offense, a balance with the rushing game was prevalent Friday, and though Nelson said his players contained them well at first, it soon became an uphill battle.
Aspen’s first 2A Western Slope League win puts them at 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the conference, while MoCo is on the hunt for a W against a league opponent, now 4-2 in all, 0-2 WSL.
The Skiers face Rifle Oct. 18, with the Bears 6-0 after downing Delta 47-29 Friday to put the Panthers at 5-1.
The same night, Moffat County will host Coal Ridge for the last home game of the season at the Bulldog Proving Grounds, with the Titans 1-5 after a 34-0 beatdown by 6-0 Basalt.
“We’ve gotta get some of these conference wins,” Nelson said.