Moffat County football needs auspicious win over Aspen for winning record
To say chances of making it to the second season are slim for Moffat County High School football would be an overstatement. Odds are strong that this week will be the final Bulldog varsity game of the fall.
But that’s what makes the blue and white want a memorable finish all the more.
MCHS travels Friday to Aspen to round out its regular season schedule, a game that will be another challenge as the Dogs battle for second place in the 2A Western Slope League.
The hopes of reclaiming a conference title blew away last week when Moffat County took a 47-0 pounding by repeating champs Basalt, and along with that went the Bulldogs’ best shot at the 2A playoffs, now 4-4 overall and 3-1 WSL.
While not impossible, making it to the postseason would not only require a win this weekend but also a lot of bad luck for other teams across the state.
At 23rd in the ratings percentage index chart by Colorado High School Activities Association, MCHS remains a good way down from the 16 teams that will move on to the next round of competition.
Losses by the six teams — Valley, Coal Ridge, Brush, Delta, Alamosa, Manitou Springs — in front of Moffat County would not guarantee the numbers would change much, but even if they did, the final week matchups are varied.
While 5-3 Valley, 5-3 Alamosa and 4-4 Manitou Springs have their work cut out for them against 6-2 Sterling, 8-0 Bayfield and 7-1 Classical Academy, respectively, the other three teams are heavily favored in their last week, including Brush and Delta, both 3-5, against Fort Lupton and Gunnison, each 0-8.
Moffat County’s fellow Western Slopers Coal Ridge also look to move to 5-4 as they host Steamboat Springs, the 2-6 Sailors the unexpected recipient of a victory by default last week thanks to a forfeiture of all season wins by Glenwood Springs due to player ineligibility.
Ironically, the 18th-ranked Titans’ potential to push their way into the playoffs — possibly in the No. 16 slot currently held by 4-4 D’Evelyn, who will gain few RPI points with a win over 1-7 Denver West — does not offset the fact that they will finish no higher than fourth in the WSL after a 14-10 defeat to the Bulldogs.
An uphill battle
Since head coach Keith Gille began at MCHS, the Bulldogs are 2-1 against the Aspen Skiers, a team that went from back-to-back 2-7 seasons to being 7-1 in a banner year for the program, starting with a season opener win of 80-50.
“Karson Pike’s come in and transformed that team from non-believers to a pretty good little unit,” Gille said.
Though bombarded 48-22 by their Basalt rivals, the Skiers are still very much in the state title conversation, and the name that comes up repeatedly is quarterback RJ Peshek.
Peshek has proved to be the most prolific passer in the league, throwing for 1,932 yards, a number that also ranks him at second in 2A and sixth among all classes.
Plus, his legs work just as well as his arm, and he is the top player in the state in any classification when it comes to total yardage, his 681 rushing yards putting him at a whopping 2,613 across eight games.
“He’s over two-thirds of their offense, he does it all,” Gille said of Peshek. “He’s not an imposing kid either, only about 5’ 10”, 200 pounds.”
Gille added that Peshek’s quickness in getting rid of the ball will be put to the test by the Moffat County line, while the Bulldogs’ secondary defense will keep Aspen receivers on their toes.
“I think we’ve got just the defensive backs to do this,” he said.
A distinct size advantage works in Moffat County’s favor, and the Bulldogs retain some of the hardest hitting talent of the WSL, with Miki Klimper and Colby Beckett leading the conference in tackles, tied at 78, followed by Josh Teeter at 53.
Klimper and Beckett each also boast three sacks this season, though Klimper is likely to sit out this Friday after coming off the field twice in the Basalt game.
Gille said he’s taking few chances with the Skiers’ artificial turf.
“At this stage, I’d rather be safe than sorry,” he said.
While he knows Friday’s game is unlikely to push the year’s game count to double digits, Gille is priming his players to hold nothing back in the final week of play.
“It’s a good opportunity to finish with a winning record, and we at least already have a winning record in the league, which is important to us,” he said.