Moffat County football victorious in 34-0 clash with Coal Ridge Titans
The Bulldog Proving Grounds at Moffat County High School has seen both highs and lows for its inhabitants this year, but few things could have gone better in the latest event the venue hosted.
In its final home game of the regular season, MCHS varsity football achieved a 34-0 win over the Titans of New Castle’s Coal Ridge High School, escalating their record to 3-4.
It was not the Titans’ night from the opening kickoff by the Bulldogs, as a Coal Ridge fumble gave MCHS the ball along with a quick advantage and great field position.
Moffat County’s Brett Loyd attempted a 25-yard field goal after being held to fourth down, the resultant wide kick causing some to fear the special teams issues suffered last week in Basalt had returned.
The Titans got as far as the Bulldogs’ 45-yardline before the turnover on downs, and Moffat County set to work, getting back downfield thanks to a 37-yard catch by Joe Camilletti. At the midway mark of the first quarter, Shandon Hadley’s 5-yard carry amounted to the first touchdown of the night, and Loyd’s extra point showed things were back on track.
Bulldog defense held strong, forcing the punt from the 34, and soon they were back in Titan territory, finishing the quarter 14-0 after a 2-yard carry by Keenan Hildebrandt, who steamrolled the Coal Ridge line again and again as the evening continued.
The Titans tried the same tactic with some success throughout the game, but running back Jared Duran rarely gained much yardage after repeated handoffs by quarterback Jackson Sargent.
Moffat County was ready with the punt return as Coal Ridge again sent the pigskin their way, and within minutes Hildebrandt had the opportunity to smash through from the 2-yardline again, making it 21-0.
Sargent went to the air, but the passing wasn’t on the mark. A Titan interception looked like it could be trouble, but Bulldog defense held tight for four downs as Coal Ridge pushed its way as far as the 17-yardline. MCHS went back on the offensive, as quarterback Matt Hamilton found Camilletti on a 40-yard throw, which Camilletti took another 20 to the end zone to end the half, 27-0.
Less than two minutes into the third quarter, Hildebrandt hit the trifecta, finding some running room at midfield, plowing through tacklers and breaking through for a 49-yard dash to the goal line for the final score.
Coal Ridge once again managed to get to the red zone on the following progression, but when it looked like the Titans were sure to score, Camilletti nabbed an interception at the 6-yardline. Turnabout was fair play, because as soon as the Bulldogs made it across the turf, Coal Ridge’s Colton Ellis grabbed his own pick in the end zone.
The fourth quarter saw both teams tire, with Moffat County Joe Selbach taking a shot to the knee while tackling that forced him out of the game. The interrupted drive by Coal Ridge was the closest yet the Titans came to scoring, but Eddie Smercina prevented any hope with yet another interception for a touchback.
“I think we played awful hard, our defensive line is getting better and better and our DBs are getting turnover after turnover,” Gille said.
With five minutes left and not much happening, Coach Keith Gille began pulling some starters and putting in second-stringers, with the Bulldogs controlling the ball and moving the chains just enough to run out the clock.
“This is just a great game for us, with the band out, cheerleaders, everybody here tonight,” Gille said.
What made the shutout even sweeter was the fact that it came with the personal occasion of Senior Night, as Moffat County seniors Hamilton, Camilletti, Keith Smith, Cory Summers and Alex Herring were acknowledged in a pre-game ceremony, as well as trainer Trenci Towner.
“We had a great week in practice, so we just came out and did what we did all week,” Camilletti said.
Senior Night is traditionally the last time the eldest players see their own field again, but Camilletti and Hamilton aren’t so sure. Now 2-1 in the 2A Western Slope North League, not only are the Bulldogs very much part of the playoff race, but two more wins will give them a home match in the postseason.
Even so, coaches and players are keeping their attention focused on next week’s away game in Aspen before making plans for the end of the month.
“One game at a time,” Camilletti and Hamilton said in unison, both laughing.
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