Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

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November 23, 2012
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Pueblo East prepares for explosive Rifle attack

Pueblo East High School football coach David Ramirez has seen the film. As unreal as Ryan Moeller's statistics are, he knows Rifle is no one-man show.

"They're a team that plays hard and they go as hard from the snap to the whistle," said Ramirez, whose Eagles (10-2) will face Moeller's Bears (12-0) in Saturday's 3A state semifinals at Dutch Clark Stadium in Pueblo. "Everything I've heard is that everyone wants to hype them up as a one-man team, but that is far from the case. They have a great team defense. Their line does a great job. They just have impressive output from everyone."

It's understandable why people get so wrapped up in Moeller's stats.

On offense, the senior running back/safety has rushed for 2,652 yards and 38 touchdowns and has five receptions, 209 yards and three TDs in the receiving game. On defense, he's up to eight interceptions, two of which he's returned for scores. He's also returned a pair of punts for TDs.

Moeller's 45 total TDs have him within reach of the 11-man football single-season state record of 52.

But, as Ramirez states, the Bears are more than just one player.

Moeller's backfield mate, Kellin Leigh, is up to 955 rushing yards and 10 TDs. Senior quarterback Adam Rice is coming off a 7-for-8, 201-yard performance against Roosevelt. Sophomore back Isaac Rider busted off an 82-yard TD run last week and is up to 386 yards for the season.

Defensively, Rifle is stingy. Before beating Roosevelt, 48-34, in the quarterfinals last weekend, the Bears had given up just 35 points in 11 games.

East is perhaps the most balanced team Rifle has seen all season.

Junior quarterback Kurt Rode has thrown for 2,491 yards and 24 touchdowns against eight interceptions on 154-for-244 passing.

In the backfield, senior Derion Ibarra's 1,312 yards and 16 TDs anchor the Eagles' ground game.

"We're pretty balanced," Ramirez said. "We do probably throw more than your average high school team."

Senior Felix Mestas is Rode's top target. He's racked up 886 yards and 12 scores on 41 receptions.

East's 2012 success is unprecedented. This is the program's first trip to the semifinals.

"The last time we qualified for the playoffs was 2008," Ramirez said. "Before that, it was a 12-year drought. In terms of recent history, there hasn't been a lot of success in football. It's something we're really looking to build upon."

The Eagles' playoff run, which has thus far featured wins over Holy Family (49-28) and Delta (35-24), has certainly energized the community in Pueblo.

"The excitement and community support has been really great," Ramirez said. "These kids deserve it. It's a really cool feeling to get out there and play football this time of year. We hope to keep it going."

With a five-game winning streak in tow, East is playing its best football late in the season.

"Our offensive production has been really great," Ramirez said. "Our defense is coming along. This is the time of year you want to be playing your best football."

jcaspersen@postindependent.com


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The Post Independent Updated Nov 24, 2012 11:29AM Published Nov 23, 2012 01:15AM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.