Bears, Bulldogs set for battle |

Bears, Bulldogs set for battle

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Darcy Copeland Special to the Post IndependentOffensive linemen Alex Copeland (56) and Hugo Ruelas (50) open a hole for Rifle running back Kellin Leigh (22) last Friday night against Moffat County. The Bears whipped the Bulldogs, 46-6, bringing their season record to 8-0. The Bears face Palisade tonight at Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction.

Rifle can write another chapter in its rich football history with a road win over Palisade tonight.

The Bears, a perfect 8-0 and ranked fifth in Class 3A in the latest Denver Post media poll, are a victory away from their first league title since 2002.

Interestingly enough, 2002 was also the last time Rifle pieced together an undefeated regular season.

But a league title won’t come easily for the Bears.

The Bulldogs are 7-1 and ranked seventh in 3A. Their only loss came to a team Rifle beat by the narrowest of margins: Battle Mountain.

Back on Sept. 23, Marco Gutierrez’s 45-yard field goal lifted the Bears to a 22-21 win over visiting Battle Mountain.

On Oct. 7, the Huskies turned around and blasted Palisade in Edwards, 49-28.

It’s been a three-team battle for the league crown ever since.

A win over Palisade would give the Bears the head-to-head tiebreaker against both teams, assuring them of the title even if they faltered against Glenwood Springs in next week’s regular season finale.

Both Palisade and Rifle boast high-scoring offenses and stingy defenses.

Palisade has outscored its opponents by a 308-150 count. Rifle’s scored 284 and allowed a league-low 79 points.

Both teams like to run the ball.

The Bears’ Ryan Moeller has rushed for 1,806 yards. With 842 yards, teammate Brandon Kittle isn’t far behind.

The Bulldogs have two backs with more than 500 rushing yards – Ronald Kuntz (644 yards) and quarterback Luke McLean (573 yards).

McLean has also aired it out some, completing 41 of 82 passes for 880 yards.

Tonight’s game kicks off at 7 p.m.

Glenwood Springs will resume its effort to somehow sneak into the 3A state playoffs with a visit from Delta tonight.

The 4-4 Demons currently sit 22nd in the Colorado High School Activities Association’s wild card points standings, which are used to determine nine of Class 3A’s 16 playoff qualifiers. League title winners receive automatic berths.

Teams earn wild card points based on the quality and classification of opponents.

Though it’d have to leapfrog a handful of teams and receive some help to make it, Glenwood appears intent on making its playoff case.

After starting the season 1-4, the Demons have won three straight, including a 28-7 victory at Eagle Valley last week.

Delta (4-4) is coming off losses against Battle Mountain and Rifle.

Grand Valley, which nearly knocked off Olathe last week, turns its attention to visiting Roaring Fork tonight.

The 2-6 Rams haven’t won since upsetting Olathe, 23-22, back on Oct. 7. Last week, they lost at Cedaredge, 41-31.

The Cardinals are 3-5 overall and 2-3 in league play.

Coal Ridge looks to bolster its playoff case when Basalt visits Peach Valley tonight.

The Titans leveled their overall record at 4-4 with a 21-14 upset at Aspen last week. Devon Godeski returned an interception for a TD late to lift Coal Ridge past the Skiers.

Sitting at 22nd in the 2A wild card standings, the Titans need to win out and get some help to have a chance to sneak into the 16-team playoffs.

Basalt (4-4) is 26th in the wild card race and is coming off a 27-7 win over visiting Gunnison last week.

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