Moffat County football sails past Steamboat to remain unbeaten in league play
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — After both coming off a win the previous week, Moffat County High School football was more than happy to let the wind out of the sails of their Steamboat Springs rivals.
MCHS earned its third straight conference win Friday in a 41-13 game in Steamboat, which was also the third consecutive year the Bulldogs have won the matchup between the two, as well as the biggest victory in point margin while under head coach Keith Gille.
The Dogs were on the hunt for an even bigger blowout than the past two years — shutting out the Sailors 27-0 in 2015 and 18-0 in 2016 — and hopefully even outdo the 56-27 massacre of Steamboat in 2012.
The 29-point mark will have to wait until next year, but it wasn’t lack of effort on Moffat County’s part, as a typically dominating defensive line earned the first points of the night.
After pushing Steamboat back to its own 5-yard line, Toryn Hume got the Dogs six points when he blocked the Sailor punt less than five minutes into the game and toppled over the goal line to secure the ball.
Steamboat answered back with a big kick return and even bigger following catch by Tyler Doyne, who gained 50 yards on the reception, with Tanner Raper able to run it in from nine yards, teams tied at 7-7.
It was the last end zone visit Sailors would see for most of the game, however.
A six-yard TD rush by Alex Nevarez late in the first quarter would prove to be the Dogs’ go-ahead score with an accompanying PAT by Axeel Mendoza, but they were far from finished.
A lengthy drive by Moffat County ate up most of the second quarter, yet it was not for nothing once Colby Beaver found Miki Klimper in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown pass to close the first half.
Klimper wasn’t content to let his hot hands be limited to offense. No sooner had the Sailors started their push after receiving the second half kickoff did Klimper ransack the backfield, forcing a fumble to snatch away the ball and run it all the way back from 48 yards to make it 28-7.
The strip sack was one of three sacks Klimper had in the night.
MCHS scored again early in the fourth quarter on a draw play up the middle from four yards by Josh Teeter, moving quick to get right back in position minutes later and let Dominic Pascetti dive in from 2.
The Dogs no doubt wanted a running clock game — a lead of 40 points or more — and had their shot when Cale Scranton grabbed an interception, though the second-string struggled to press forward, and a lengthy field goal attempt by Mendoza — six for seven on extra points — hit the left upright.
The Sailors, playing for pride at this point, started their drive from their own 20 and refused to be kept to a single-digit score, at last gaining the final TD from a 20-yard dash by Canon Reece.
Despite a few defensive lapses, Gille noted that an all-around great night was boosted by special teams and offense, particularly Beaver’s throwing arm, eight for 11 on passing for 125 yards.
“He put that right where they couldn’t get it, and that’s what we’ve been working on,” Gille said.
Klimper caught five passes for 69 yards, Scranton two for 45 and Nevarez one for 11.
Gille added that a good ground game was more difficult than usual with the Sailors’ artificial turf, which took its toll as the night continued.
“Guys like it to run on, but when it comes to ankles it’s tough,” he said.
Pascetti led in rushing with 58 yards, closely followed by Nevarez at 54, Teeter 36, while Connor Murphy, Joe Campagna, Greg Hixson and Marcus Delgado each added small contributions for a total 160 yards.
Klimper notched 11 tackles, Hume 10, with nine for Jared Baker, who along with Jefferson Piatt, added one sack.
Steamboat moves to 1-6 with the loss and 1-2 in the 2A Western Slope League while Moffat County is 4-3 overall and 3-0 in conference play.
The Bulldogs share the unbeaten league distinction with the Basalt Longhorns, who will come to Craig Oct. 20 after rocking Coal Ridge 54-14. The game, Senior Night for MCHS, could decide the league title, though the Dogs will still have to travel to Aspen the following week, the Skiers most recently taking a 64-6 win over Roaring Fork.
Scranton said the Moffat County crew expects a balanced attack from 6-1 Basalt, whose Friday game included 100+ passing yards and nearly 300 collective rushing yards.
“Stop the run, stop the pass,” he said. “We’re doing really well on both sides of the ball.”
Northwest Colorado athletes are coming back from the National High School Finals Rodeo with some heavy honors.