Moffat County football looks for league lead Friday in Basalt

Andy Bockelman
Craig Daily Press

Moffat County High School football coach Keith Gille doesn’t like to refer to any one match-up as “The Big Game.” Still, there’s no denying there’s a lot at stake this weekend.

MCHS travels Friday to Basalt for a game against the Longhorns that will put the winner in position to claim the 2A Western Slope League championship.

Both schools are 3-0 in conference play, while Basalt holds the advantage with an overall season record of 5-2 to the Bulldogs’ 4-3. Even though the two squads are the only ones in the WSL capable of finishing the year above .500, neither is completely in the clear for the title until the final week.

A Longhorn victory this Friday coupled with a win in Carbondale when they visit Roaring Fork Oct. 28 not only gives the league honors to Basalt, but will secure them a spot in the playoffs and more than likely a home game.

Postseason placement is guaranteed for each of the 2A league winners, with RPI — Ratings Percentage Index — data determining the remainder. Season records of each team, each team’s opponent and each team’s opponents’ opponents play into the rankings, in which Basalt is currently 15th.

Moffat County is 25th with a chance to move up should they stop the Longhorns’ win streak. The final season game — at home Oct. 28 against Aspen — also will play into it, a repeat of the Bulldogs’ home playoff game in 2015 only an option should they crack the top 16.

And, though it’s a long shot, Roaring Fork remains a possibility to claim the WSL crown, 2-1 headed into a Friday road game against Coal Ridge. If the Rams come out on top the next two weeks and MCHS loses both its games, Roaring Fork could see the playoffs.

In the Moffat County-Basalt meeting, the two teams complement each other well.

Last season saw the Bulldogs victorious, 38-7, when Basalt came to Craig, MCHS the only league team to hand the Longhorns a defeat.

“They’re a team that does the little things well, they work hard, they’ve got a good program, fundamentally well-coached and there’s a reason why they’re where they’re at,” Gille said.

Since starting league play, the Longhorns have scored 146 points, allowing only 24, all of which came during their game last week with Coal Ridge, whom the Bulldogs defeated, 28-3.

The Bulldogs have not allowed a single touchdown since a 36-33 shootout at Roaring Fork, keeping the aforementioned Titans to a field goal and shutting out Steamboat Springs, 18-0, last week for Moffat County homecoming.

Basalt quarterback Miles Levy recently surpassed 1,000 passing yards — his 1,018 still second behind Coal Ridge’s Jackson Sargent’s league-leading 1,088 — while the Bullogs’ main man in the pocket, Keenan Hildebrandt, has thrown for 690 this season, ranked fourth.

Levy has thrown 14 touchdowns and Hildy seven, but Basalt’s passer also has six interceptions to the Bulldog’s four.

Hildy remains at the top of the league in rushing yards, however, with 555 yards to date, 30 run against Steamboat, complete with a three-yard touchdown last week.

In receiving, Basalt’s Kyle Roberts is ranked second in the WSL with 408 yards — Bulldogs’ Miki Klimper fourth with 321 — and Roberts is well in the lead in individual TDs and points scored, 13 and 78, respectively, Hildy following in both categories at eight rushing TDs and 52 points, complete with two conversions.

On defense, the numbers stack up well for Moffat County, led in tackles by Klimper, the heaviest hitter in the conference with 78, 15 alone last week. MCHS’s Dominic Pascetti has recorded the most WSL sacks, credited with 3.5, while teammate John Peroulis is tied for second with Basalt’s Cullen White and Aspen’s James Kistner with three each.

As a whole, the Bulldogs average 63 tackles per game compared with the Longhorns’ 44 and have 13 total sacks to Basalt’s seven.

“It’s going to be a tough game, but we’ve gotta do what we do and just pound it down their throats,” Klimper said.