Moffat County football prepped for Panthers | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County football prepped for Panthers

MCHS, Delta to meet for first game since 2013

Members of the Moffat County High School defense stand ready against Ridge View Academy. From left, Frankie Masterson (75), Kaden Hafey (23), Devon Mosman (73), John T Peroulis (33), Chace Marshall (1) and Mikinzie Klimper (88). The Bulldogs host Delta this week.

It's been a year or two since they last met, but two prior conference rivals are prepared to fight like cats and dogs just like old times.

Moffat County High SchoolMoffat County High School varsity football hosts Delta at 7 p.m. Friday at the Bulldog Proving Grounds, the Panthers meeting MCHS for the first time since 2013. varsity football hosts Delta at 7 p.m. Friday at the Bulldog Proving Grounds, the Panthers meeting MCHS for the first time since 2013.

Moffat County High School varsity football hosts Delta at 7 p.m. Friday at the Bulldog Proving Grounds, the Panthers meeting MCHS for the first time since 2013.

Colorado High School Activities AssociationColorado High School Activities Association released early season rankings this week based on coach and media votes, placing the Bulldogs 10th in the 2A division and Delta seventh. released early season rankings this week based on coach and media votes, placing the Bulldogs 10th in the 2A division and Delta seventh.

Colorado High School Activities Association released early season rankings this week based on coach and media votes, placing the Bulldogs 10th in the 2A division and Delta seventh.

When last the two schools faced off — then both part of the 3A Western Slope League — Delta walked away with a 53-7 win, one of many victories that took them as far as the state semifinals that season. 2014 also saw the Panthers in the 3A playoffs, and last year the team also made it to the penultimate round of the postseason and maintained a 7-0 record in 3A WSL.

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Delta, coached by Ben Johnson, has since been realigned as a 2A school, now part of the Intermountain League. Their schedule began in Zero Week with a bitter 21-20 defeat to Durango, followed by a bye week as they recouped their losses.

In their one game so far, the Panthers posted sizable numbers, including 22 carries and 209 rushing yards by Damon Jensen, his longest a 60-yard run. Quarterback Kole Roberts threw for 109 yards — including a 45-yard reception by Abraham Ontiveros — but also had three interceptions from the Demons.

In last week's 44-0 home opener against Ridge View Academy, the 1-1 Bulldogs boasted their own set of positive data, including Keenan Hildebrandt, Eddie Smercina and Kaden Hafey scoring two touchdowns apiece, while Moffat County also recovered five fumbles and recorded three consecutive sacks.

Still, one number is too high for head coach Keith Gille — the amount of players lost to injury.

Hugo Hernandez remains out for the season with a fracture from August's game against Rawlins, while Nate Baker has undergone multiple surgeries for a dislocated knee incurred against Ridge View to sideline him for this fall.

Gille said the amount of networking among families following the injury was a prime example of "Bulldog nation" taking care of their own.

"This was Nate's breakout year, good varsity carries and our major punt and kickoff returner," he said. "Then to have a kid just run up the back of him, that's not fair. That's the great thing about athletics is you can work hard and nothing's guaranteed, and the bad thing is you've got to overcome a lot of adversity at times."

The coach remains hopeful about fullback Elias Peroulis — also taken out of the game last week — returning to action, though not this Friday.

"What these injuries do is they can open up opportunities for kids, but they also make us really, really thin at key positions," Gille said. "We can't have breakdowns. This team has had two weeks to prepare for us."

Gille noted the vast improvements on the previous week on the line from players such as Braeden Barnes, Colby Beckett and Jared Baker, showing the way younger players are coming into their own.

"They were just lights out," Gille said.

Meanwhile, MCHS seniors are the only ones on the team who have encountered Delta on the gridiron in their freshman year, and giving the Panthers no easy time is at the forefront of their minds.

"They're a tough team, so it'll be a good game," senior Eddie Smercina said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.