Thursday, September 22, 2005
Steamboat Springs Success can be dangerous when a team comes to expect it.
Moffat County, a playoff participant last year, learned that lesson Sept. 16 after losing what it thought was a winnable game at Eagle Valley.
"They gave us an old-fashioned butt-whooping," Bulldogs coach Kip Hafey said. "This league is too tough -- you can't overlook anyone. We did. You have to hand it to Eagle Valley, and hopefully, we've learned from that."
Moffat County quarterback Derek Duran said the players were eyeing the Oct. 15 Palisade game. They aren't anymore.
Steamboat Springs coach Aaron Finch is expecting a typical rivalry game, and the 7 p.m. game today has the potential to go down to the final possession.
"We both have offenses that can put up points, but we both are running defenses that are pretty stingy, as well," Finch said. "Moffat County and Steamboat is a good rivalry, and Coach Hafey and I have talked a lot about making it a good rivalry, not an ugly one."
Most of the players on the Sailors' roster grew up playing against most of the Bulldogs, so this game tends to bring out emotion and the best efforts from both sides.
And there are few players in the Western Slope League better than Duran, an athletic senior quarterback who can run and throw. Last year, Duran had the luxury of handing off to big backs and settling into the pocket behind experienced and large offensive linemen.
Most of that size is gone.
"Their line was so huge last year any year will be incomparable," Finch said. "What you see right now, is they are very athletic. You can tell they are well-coached and move well."
The Bulldogs' advantage on the line played a big part in their 40-20 win a season ago. Hafey envisions things being more even this year.
"Really, when I look across the line defensively and some guys that Steamboat has offensively, I think we really are the smaller team," Hafey said. "Steamboat has a quality team. They've showed that. Coach Finch has them playing great."
Both the Sailors and Bulldogs are averaging 5.3 yards a carry. The biggest difference on offense is in Moffat County's passing game. Through three games -- two wins and a loss -- Duran is 33-of-65 for 589 yards with eight touchdown passes and just two interceptions.
But the Eagle Valley game -- film the Steamboat coaches didn't see because of a technical problem the Bulldogs had taping it --as the first time this year that Moffat County truly had been tested.
"They've definitely installed more of a spread look," Finch said. "They want to give Derek an opportunity to pass. You can tell Derek is a great athlete."
Steamboat will counter with its 3-5 defense, a scheme Hafey said the coaches have been preparing for.
"It plays a lot on you," he said about Steamboat's defense. "You never know who is coming."
The only thing both coaches know for sure is their opponent will be ready for tonight.