Moffat County football seeks to flip last season’s loss to Gunnison
Coaches: Cowboys a good test before league lineup
September 17, 2015
The Bulldog Proving Grounds will be silent for the next few Fridays, but if all goes well, the stands will be packed and louder than ever once the Moffat County High School varsity football team makes its return home.
MCHS continues its stretch of road games Friday, stepping onto the Gunnison gridiron for a 7 p.m. kickoff and the final non-conference game of the season.
The Dogs showed they have what it takes to travel and dominate Saturday when they topped the Rams of Ridge View Academy, 30-14, and this week's trip comes with the extra incentive of a Western Slope grudge match.
The Cowboys ran roughshod over Moffat County last fall in a 49-0 blowout that players undoubtedly want to avenge.
"I think this will be a good litmus test for us," said assistant coach Jeff Sullivan.
Gunnison went 9-2 in the 2014 season, their win in Craig the first of two big non-conference shutouts before sweeping the entire 2A Western Slope South League to claim a championship, going as far as the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.
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This year, the team's record, under new coach Shane Zimmerman, is a little different — 0-2 so far, the Cowboys were hit visiting Kent Denver, 41-13, and looked likely to win last week hosting Monte Vista only for the Pirates to take a surprise touchdown in the fourth quarter to beat them, 10-9.
The 2-1 Bulldogs' strengths across their first three weeks have been a running game that averages nearly 250 yards per outing and the ability to capitalize on turnovers.
Head coach Keith Gille said he's continuing to gain an understanding of players' capabilities week by week.
"I don't think I came in here and really understood a lot of them, especially our seniors, and I owe them an apology for assuming that they knew things I expected, so I think I need to do a better job of teaching, and that's on me," he said.
Gille said working on basics has been key in preparing for the Cowboys, which may not have the weight games later in the season will but is nonetheless important as the team works to keep up their winning ways.
The Gunnison game will lead to a bye week for the Bulldog varsity squad as they get ready for Western Slope North opponent Battle Mountain Oct. 2, while JV stays sharp with two home games next week, a Monday match with Fruita Monument and a newly-added Sept. 24 face-off with Glenwood Springs. JV will also play Sept. 28 in Meeker.
Athletic and activities director Mike Mitchell said providing a lot of field time for younger players is one of his top priorities.
"It's the only way to build them up, scheduling good, tough competition," he said. "I really feel good about some of the progress these young kids, especially ninth-graders have made, you can see them changing right before your eyes."