Senior Night highlights Moffat County football talent heading into final weeks
During the senior night football game on Friday, Oct. 21, in Craig, Moffat County had its highest-scoring match yet this fall with a 60-14 win against the Aspen Skiers.
With a 47-0 advantage at halftime, the running clock was going in Moffat County’s favor, as the Bulldogs took an opportunity to showcase some of their senior athletes.
All told, Moffat County honored 19 seniors during the night including football players Garrett Anson, Evan Atkin, Kaden Hixson, Catcher Jackson, Johnny Lopez, Tristan Malvitz, Cort Murphy, Max Noland, Izzac Pierce, Isaac Vallem and Michael Voloshin; team managers Hailey Collins and Taelee Knez; and cheerleaders Reagan Bower, Zoey Cochran and Barb Kacnyrova.
During the intermission, the cross country team also brought up seniors Garrett Mercer, Boden Reidhead, Bella Simones and Ian Trevenen.
As for the game, it went by fast. Moffat County’s Evan Beaver threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to junior Hudson Jones in the first two minutes, and the scoring spree was off and running.
The majority of the points came from running back Atkin, who put up seven TDs against the Skiers. Six of those came on the ground, and two of his TD runs exceeded 60 yards. In addition to a 31-yard TD catch and a fake punt midfield that turned into another score, Atkin closed the night with an 85-yard kickoff return for another touchdown.
Atkin also added an extra point, and sophomore Cesar Quezada kicked five more.
While Atkin was just short of exceeding the single-game rushing yardage peak he set a few weeks ago, he still ran for 246 yards on eight carries, and Atkin’s all-purpose yardage was at 367 for the night, the best of his career.
Likewise, Beaver had 116 passing yards on seven completions before he was relieved by sophomore Damien Lira late in the game.
After snapping the ball exclusively for the past few years, Jackson has gotten used to a singular role as the team’s center, though he’s occasionally been rotated in on defense this season. However, that did not happen Friday night.
“They didn’t need it this time,” he said. “Everything, all sides of the ball, we were doing good.”
Besides the running clock working in their favor, the Bulldogs defense got off the field quickly drive after drive. Atkin led the team in tackles with five, and he, Hixson, Voloshin and junior Aron Aguilar were all credited with sacks.
Though Aspen never gave up a fumble, the Skiers were tormented by turnovers. Besides Noland earning a pick-six, Aguilar and Lopez each got an interception, with freshman Patrick Neton getting a fourth that was negated by a Bulldogs penalty. It was the fifth pick of the season for Lopez, who leads the team in interceptions.
“The interceptions, I love them,” Lopez said.
Lopez was also part of the belated homecoming coronation during halftime, as he and Lizzy LeWarne were named king and queen. The Sept. 30 homecoming parade was rained out, and the rescheduled ceremony on Friday included senior attendants Alexis Jones and Billy Lawton, junior attendants Emma Tucker and Jimi Jimenez, sophomores Hannah Kilpatrick and Tate Green, and freshmen Millie Lowe and Porter Webb.
“Finally got to wear that crown,” Lopez said with a laugh.
Honored faculty were teachers Karen Chaney and Joe Padon, while 2003 MCHS graduates Amanda Wooten and Ryan Hampton were honored alumni.
Though senior night was a celebratory moment for most, it was more than a little bittersweet for some of the players on the sidelines. Pierce was cheering on his teammates while using a pair of crutches after an injury during the Coal Ridge game, while Murphy stood down from his quarterback role for the second week.
Murphy said he missed being on the field, but he is looking at the bigger picture as he nurses a minor injury.
“I’m still glad the team pulled through and was able to have a great game,” he said. “I’m just trying to stay healthy and be ready for next week.”
Now 6-2, Moffat County will wrap the regular season this week on the road against Grand Valley (4-4), the Bulldogs’ final opponent in the conference.
Across the league, the Cardinals fell 48-0 to 4-4 Rifle, and 8-0 Basalt remained undefeated with a 57-13 rout of 2-6 Coal Ridge. Basalt has all but earned the league championship at this point and will take on Aspen (2-6) this week, while Coal Ridge hosts Rifle. As the league runners-up, the Bulldogs are poised for another playoff appearance, and a victory over Grand Valley could help them in the standings.
Moffat County’s loss to Basalt means the Bulldogs aren’t guaranteed a home game in the postseason, yet the rankings could still help them. While they’d welcome one more round on their home field, the MoCo seniors have appreciated what this season has been in terms of memories.
“I’m gonna miss playing with all my teammates and getting after it,” Jackson said.
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