Bears win season opener at home
RIFLE — Rifle High School’s football team season opener against Grand County out of Moab, Utah, was not quite as lopsided as the Bears blowout win against the Red Devils last season, but Rifle managed to control most of the game en route to a dominating win.
Led largely by the run game and senior running back Tyler Bosshardt, Rifle bested Grand County 47-12 at Bears Stadium to start the season Friday night. The Bears finished with 420 total yards of offense. Bosshardt contributed a total of 131 yards rushing on nine carries, along with two touchdowns.
“I feel pretty confident but I got to give credit to the guys up front,” Bosshardt said after the game.
In total, the Bears rushed for 308 yards, while senior quarterback Ethan Strouse completed four out of six passes for a total of 112 yards, including a 46-yard pass to Bosshardt.
The victorious start to the season came without head coach Damon Wells calling the plays on offense. Wells served a one-game suspension related to an incident last season involving a volunteer videographer who was out of place. Friday’s win was a testament to the coaching and work Wells puts in with his players, said assistant coach John Arledge.
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“The kids held their composure just like their head coach,” Arledge said. “Bottom line: life goes on. It’s Rifle football.”
The game started with a scare for the Bears after senior Carlos Ochoa fumbled the opening kickoff. The Bears defense played damage control and held the Red Devils to 4 yards before turning it over on downs at the Rifle 17-yard line.
Shortly after, Bosshardt broke off a 69-yard run to give the Bears a 7-0 lead.
The Bears forced a fumble, which Takoda Chaney recovered, in the ensuing possession by the Red Devils.
The Bears capped a 39-yard drive with a 6-yard run from Blaine Vance, giving the Bears a 14-0 lead with 3 minutes and 24 seconds left in the first quarter. Vance would finish the game with 76 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 15 carries.
Grand County managed to string together at 55-yard drive the next possession, capped by a 17-yard screen pass from sophomore Josh Jones to senior Dalton McElhaney. The Red Devils missed the extra point, bringing the score to 14-6.
Strouse scrambled for a 43-yard run to the end zone during the Bears next possession, but the play was called back due to a holding penalty. The penalty was one of several on offense that negated a Bears touchdown that night. A 45-yard touchdown run by Bosshardt was brought back on the Bears next possession due to another holding penalty.
Arledge attributed the penalties to early season aggression.
“Sometimes when you’re playing early in the season and you’re playing aggressive you just get caught,” he said.
The Bears managed to overcome the holding penalties and made it to the end zone on both possessions, ending the first half up 33-6.
From there, the Bears slowed things down in the second half. After forcing Grand County to punt — the first of the game — on the first possession of the third quarter, the Bears capped a 70-yard drive with a touchdown run from Bosshardt; taking the score to 42-6 following a successful two-point conversion.
The Red Devils answered with a 67-yard drive of their own on the next possession bringing the score to 41-12.
Vance had an 8-yard touchdown run for the Bears in the fourth quarter, bringing the score to 47-12.
“I thought we played fairly well,” Arledge said, before giving credit to the defensive line. The Bears defense held the Red Devils to 104 yards rushing on 33 carries and 71 yards passing. Ochoa picked off McElhaney for the game’s only interception .
While it was a good start to the season, Arledge said the key will be keeping the players focused on improving everyday.
“If we get better everyday,” he said, “good things will happen.”
The Bears will travel to Craig next week to take on the Moffat County High School Bulldogs. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
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It may be by a technicality, but the Valley Valkyries 7s rugby club were the de facto champions of their hosted tournament Saturday.