Moffat County football smashes Steamboat in rivalry showdown
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — They weren’t exactly as bloodthirsty as Jason Voorhees, but the Moffat County High School football team made it a rather unhappy Friday the 13th for rival Steamboat Springs.
The Bulldogs improved to 2-0 in their second consecutive road win with a 42-13 drubbing of the 1-2 Sailors.
The first half of the night was owned by Moffat County as they headed to the locker room ahead 35-0.
Nearly all of MoCo’s touchdowns come from explosive early plays, starting with a 39-yard touchdown catch by Dario Alexander less than a minute into the action.
“I really wanted that play, and coach gave it to me,” Alexander said. “It worked out.”
It didn’t take long for the Dogs to retake possession, and it was even quicker for them to score again. Quarterback Ryan Peck sent a screen pass to Dagan White, who was well-covered, though a hook-and-ladder maneuver to Kevin Hernandez let him run all the way up the visitor sideline for a 73-yard TD to further establish a dominant tone.
The Sailors gave up the ball moments later when White snagged an interception at midfield and nearly gained his second pick six of the season with a 44-yard return, stopped short at the 1-yard line. Peck snuck the ball in from there on the next play and kicked the PAT to boot as the Dogs held a 21-0 lead to close the first quarter.
The second period wasn’t nearly the same scoring spree as both teams punted back and forth, though Hernandez was able to find a gap in the Steamboat defense to rush it in from three yards out, with MoCo leading 28-0 five minutes in the first half.
The Steamboat offense began to click as quarterback Cade Gedeon found receivers Cole Gedeon and Tanner Raper with deep passes as they looked to rally, but Hernandez burst into the Sailor backfield with a blindside sack that jarred the ball loose.
Rather than dive on it, MCHS teammate Joe Campagna had time to pick the pigskin off the turf and sprint 52 yards to the end zone for the Dogs’ fifth touchdown.
On the verge of being on the wrong side of a running clock situation, Steamboat coach Shawn Baumgartner emphasized the need for his players to step it up in the second half, a message that sunk in for the Sailors, whose opening drive in the third quarter was capped off by a TD for running back Finn Russell as he ran serpentine around the Bulldog defense.
Steamboat started getting more physical on the other end as well, and even though they were unlikely to lose their advantage, MCHS coach Jamie Nelson could see his athletes were realizing the game wasn’t as easy as it had been.
“I don’t know if they were wearing down or mentally going down, but that’s something we’ll be addressing in the next week,” Nelson said.
While in at QB, Raper bombed it to Cole Gedeon with less than five minutes in the game to put the Sailors in double digits, though a failed fake-out on the extra point attempt kept their tally at 13.
One more big Bulldog drive ended with a low pass from Peck to White for five yards and six points, plus Peck’s fourth PAT of the night.
Besides the Sailor score and the date, 13 was also significant for the Bulldog QB, who began wearing the number this season to follow in his father’s footsteps. The famously superstitious number has been anything but for him so far this year.
Though sacked twice to put him in negative running numbers, Peck’s throwing arm was on point after last week’s rainy game with Summit limited passing potential.
“We couldn’t have made any of this passing work last game. Too slippery,” he said.
He was 10 for 19 on the night, tripling his passing yardage from a week before with 196. He credited the O-line with keeping him protected as well as receivers who pulled off some bold moves early.
“That first pass to Dario, I knew I had something when that outside backer was up on the tight end, so I knew I could put it over the top, so that worked well,” Peck said. “That hook-and-ladder scared us, I thought they were gonna fumble it, but Kevin caught it and had lots of open, green grass ahead of him.”
Hernandez had 22 carries for 88 yards and two catches for 77. Two grabs by Alexander amounted to 48 yards, and White had three for 15. White had the most total all-purpose yardage after Hernandez, including 53 punt return yards.
Ethan Hafey, Taran Teeter and Riley Nelson each earned one big catch for 11 yards, 18 yards and 27 yards, respectively, earning first downs right when they were needed.
Defensively, Campagna was hitting harder than anyone with 10 solo tackles, three assists, a solo sack and an assist. Teeter and Hernandez each also took sack credit.
While Steamboat struggled with penalties ranging from facemasks to ineligible receiver, an abundance of offsides calls were cause for concern for Bulldog coaches, though it’s something they can chalk up to athletes being overly excited.
“We’ve just gotta play a little bit smarter,” coach Nelson said.
He added that he was thrilled to see a sizable Craig turnout in the stands, hoping to see even more in the coming weeks.
With two straight road wins, MCHS welcomes the chance to play at home, hosting Battle Mountain Sept. 20, complete with the football program’s Military Appreciation Night.
The home opener is one players are already anticipating.
“I just wanna show everyone in Craig what we can do,” Peck said. “Last year, besides our first games, we didn’t play well at home or on the road. Now we can show everyone what we have.”