Dale Shrull
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

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November 11, 2012
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Pint-sized perfection: Rifle line packs a punch

RIFLE, Colorado - Football fans refer to the group routinely and affectionately as the big uglies. They are the trench workers. They find themselves in the spotlight less than hibernating bears.

But this group is the key to every offense.

They are the offensive line - and for Rifle, they are more like the pint-sized uglies.

But they bring a football mentality based in intensity and effort. Size doesn't matter. Results scream success. On Saturday, the Bears dominated the Erie Tigers, coasting to a 42-0 victory.

The powerful running game led by Ryan Moeller, the top running back in Class 3A, shredded the Tigers'' defense for 394 yards.

As Moeller was breaking tackles, the Rifle Bears' offensive line was opening holes and pushing the pile.

For senior Cody Beauford, it's obvious he's tired of hearing about how small he and the Rifle linemen are.

"It's to the point where it can't matter anymore," he said. "We try to be aggressive with everything we do."

Virtually everyone who plays on the offensive line also plays defense. Beauford - his uniform grimy with scars from the trenches - shares the same mentality of his fellow players.

It's a workmanlike mentality.

"I look to do my job just like everyone else," he said.

Moeller agrees.

"It just comes down to effort and that's the way everybody on this team thinks," he said.

It's not the size of the Bear in the fight, it the size of the fight in the Bear that matters.

"We have a different definition of acceptable," senior Eli Boone said. "We try and work hard and we don't stop."

Rifle's juggernaut offense is led by the determined running of Moeller but it starts up front. On Moeller's 64-yard scamper, there was a hole large enough for a parade to stroll trough.

The team hears about the size factor virtually every week, but they know that to be successful, the job has to get done regardless of size.

"We're one of the smaller teams, so we can't just hit head on, we have to attack from different angles," junior defensive end Zach Bare said.

As usual, Beauford led a gang-tackling, swarming defense that held the Tigers to just 129 total yards.

Beauford plays linebacker on defense, but he has a linebacker mentality when he lines up on the offensive line, too.

"I try to make everything as explosive as I can and I think that goes for the whole team as well," he said.

The Erie goose egg was the sixth shutout of the season for the Bears.

Head coach Damon Wells is also a little tired of hearing about his undersized Bears.

"We feel that you have to be intense to be successful, no matter how big or small you are," he said. "We'd love to have big kids but we got what we got, and we love what we got."

What's not to love? The Bears are now 11-0 and the top-ranked team in 3A.

Hard work and intensity have been key for the Bears in every game - and on every play - this season, and now they are in the quarterfinals of the Class 3A playoffs.

That's the playoff round where the Bears lost last season.

It's no secret what it will take for the 2012 Bears to keep moving on in the playoffs. Every coach and player knows that it comes down to hard work, effort and intensity.

The game of football is about every player getting the job done. For Beauford and his teammates, they talk a lot about doing their job.

The key to Saturday's success against Erie?

Taking care of business as a individual so the team succeeds.

"I look to do my job just like everyone else," Beauford said.

And the key to next week's game against Roosevelt?

"We just need to keep doing our jobs like we have been," Beauford said without blinking.

This team may be a little on the small size but they think big - state championship big.

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The Post Independent Updated Nov 11, 2012 01:33AM Published Nov 11, 2012 01:32AM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.