Moffat County football on the rise after bye week, prepping for Resurrection Christian
After a week of recuperation, Moffat County High School football is saying “bye” to the struggles of the early season and hello to good things in store.
A bye week for the Bulldogs has allowed them a period of time to get their heads together for the remainder of the season, learning from the weeks past and moving forward.
The Dogs stand at 1-2 after losses to Rawlins, Wyoming and Delta, taking a win over Ridge View Academy in between the two defeats.
Moffat County will see the last of its non-conference action this week on the road against Loveland’s Resurrection Christian, a bit of a grudge match from last year.
The Cougars handed Moffat County its only shutout of 2016 at 42-0, though the numbers seem to favor the Bulldogs this time.
Resurrection Christian has yet to pick up a win after three games — most recently falling 20-0 to Platte Valley — and hasn’t scored a point since its season opener, a 33-8 loss to Sterling.
Likewise, MCHS leads in statistics with Alex Nevarez’s 58.7 rushing yards per game a lead over Kyle Lueck’s 47, according to MaxPreps. Quarterback Colby Beaver also has the advantage in passing yards with 98.7 per game compared to Isaac Crane’s 69.
Nevarez also averages eight tackles per game, while Kyle Hecker has seven per game for the Cougars.
Nevertheless, head coach Keith Gille still has players keyed in to improving from previous weeks, including limiting turnovers and shutting down opponents’ ground game while boosting their own.
“We’re averaging about five yards per carry, and I’m not the smartest guy at math, but if you’re doing that, it leads to first downs,” he said.
Scouting has shown Gille that Resurrection Christian are no pushovers, as coached by Mark Roggy, also the athletic director for the private school.
“He’s got a good, seasoned coaching staff with a lot of resources, let’s just put it that way,” Gille said. “They land a lot of talented athletes, so we’re happy to be playing a class school and organization, but it’s going to be a good meter for what we’ve got to do to be a contending team.”
In a rare occasion, both varsity and JV teams will play Friday, with the younger Bulldogs beginning at 4 p.m. JV most recently fought to a 12-8 home loss to Meeker on Sept. 14.
The trip to Loveland will be the final round of Friday night lights before Moffat County embarks on the 2A Western Slope League slate, with Bulldog players and coaches setting their sights on tacking back the conference crown after finishing second to Basalt last season.
“We’ve done a ton of scouting, watched a ton of film, scouted every conference team except for Aspen so far,” Gille said.
RPI rankings released this week from Colorado High School Activities Association show Moffat County football standing at 33rd in 2A, with Resurrection Christian at 30th. The Ratings Percentage Index includes the team’s record weighed against that of their opponents and their opponents’ opponents.
WSL teams are widely spread on the chart, with 3-0 Aspen at No. 9 and reigning league champs Basalt in 11th.
Gille said he wasn’t surprised with the placement of Aspen and particularly 2-1 Basalt, who stymied Delta 35-7 last week, though another fellow WSL school’s ranking as the No. 3 team was baffling, as 2-1 Coal Ridge benefits from a tough early schedule that drives up their rating.
MCHS will have to wait until October for their Homecoming game against the Titans, while Sept. 29 is the league opener at home against 0-3 Roaring Fork, who are near the bottom of the 2A RPI chart in 40th, just below Steamboat Springs at No. 39.
The football program plans to host Military Appreciation Night as part of the start to the league schedule.
During the bye week, Gille noted that there were three criteria for his players — get healthy, get focused and get grades up.
As to the first priority, a string of devastating war wounds last season is something coaches have worked to prevent this fall. Players like Miki Klimper and Greg Hixson, who have been sidelined temporarily, are back in the mix, though dealing with the unexpected is what unnerves the coach.
“If there’s one thing that keeps me up at night, it’s big injuries to high school kids,” Gille said. “I hate to see them in pain.”
As for focus, maintaining consistency in practice and running plays again and again will hopefully have an impact on players’ mindset to know what to expect and stay calm.
Of the three, the academics have been the least challenging, he added, which shows the Dogs can keep a balance of time on the field and in the classroom
“I’m happy to say that in my four years as coach, I’ve had some of the best student-athletes around,” he said. “These kids are on the ball, and these are the best that grades have ever looked.”