Prep Football: Coal Ridge still in hunt for 2A WSL North title
The Coal Ridge High School football team needed a confidence boost last week. So the Titans went out on homecoming night, and came up with a big conference win that put them back into the thick of the Class 2A Western Slope League North race.
A third-quarter touchdown scamper by running back Jared Duran proved to be a knockout blow, and the Titans held on for a 12-10 victory over Aspen.
Coal Ridge will face an equally tough opponent Friday when they travel to Craig to take on the Moffat County Bulldogs. With only three WSL games left on the league schedule, the Titans face what amounts to a must-win situation with each outing.
“It’s going to be a tight race to the end,” third-year Coal Ridge coach Kyle Sager said. “We’ve put together a pretty good team this year. The kids are playing with a lot of heart, and it’s been fun for me to watch.”
After a slow start to the season, Moffat County looks to be finding a niche under first-year coach Keith Gille. The Bulldogs (2-4, 1-1 WSL) went into Basalt last week and raced to a 31-0 halftime lead before finishing off the Longhorns with a 49-6 final. By contrast, Coal Ridge lost at Basalt, 30-6, two weeks ago.
Gille is pleased with his team’s development to this point, and optimistic about the future of the Bulldog program.
“We’re still learning how to play football. We only have three seniors on the team,” said Gille, who coached the Yuma Indians to a state championship in 2009. “For us, it’s a matter of getting better each week. We’re still far away from where I think this team can be.”
Sager knows an improving Moffat County team presents a stiff road test for his group.
“Watching them on film, they have some good talent. They have big kids and speed, and they put four quarters together in Basalt,” Sager noted.
Sager is not concerned that the long bus ride north will take anything away from the Titans.
“We had a long trip earlier this season to face a very good Olathe team, so the kids know what to expect,” Sager said.
After Friday in Craig, the final two games of the season against Roaring Fork and league-leading Battle Mountain will be in the friendly confines at Peach Valley for the Titans. This week’s matchup is critical for Coal Ridge (3-3, 1-1) to remove itself from a log jam with three other teams who stand at 1-1 in the WSL North.
“We have the last two games at home, so we just need to take care of business on the field and things might pan out for us,” Sager said.
In other games this week:
GLENWOOD SPRINGS (4-2, 3-0) AT DELTA (4-2, 2-1): The Demons and Rifle Bears find themselves together at the top of the 3A Western Slope League standings, both with undefeated conference marks. Glenwood will try to keep pace this week when they take to the road to face a good Delta team that is very efficient at both running and passing the ball. Glenwood made quick work of Eagle Valley 42-0 last week, and Delta was just as impressive in a 35-7 victory against Summit. Both Delta and Glenwood are ranked in the state’s 3A Top 10. A win would keep the Demons on track for a possible league-title showdown with Rifle in two weeks.
PALISADE (4-2, 2-1) AT RIFLE (6-0, 3-0): Hold onto your hats, this should be a dandy. Last season, Palisade got the best of the Bears in a 28-27 thriller, and the two teams ended up in a tie for the WSL title. Rifle will lean heavily on their stout defense, which has allowed just 50 points this season, the fewest of any team in Class 3A. The Bears are pretty good when they have the ball also, with a host of different players stepping up to the plate each week to give opposing defenses fits. Rifle will be eager to avenge last year’s loss and keep a share of the league lead with Glenwood.
BASALT (2-4, 1-1) AT ROARING FORK (1-5, 0-2): Basalt has been a bit of a mystery team to this point, having beaten Coal Ridge 30-6 at home two weeks ago, only to turn around and lose, also at home, 49-6 last week to a Moffat County team that has struggled much of the season. The injury bug has bitten Roaring Fork, but they will go full force to get their first conference win this week against the rival Longhorns.
GRAND VALLEY (0-6, 0-2) AT HOTCHKISS (3-3, 2-0): Grand Valley dropped a 41-7 decision at home last week to Cedaredge. This week, it’s on the road against another good opponent in the 1A Western Slope League. Hotchkiss had its offense in high gear last Friday, beating Lake County 50-13 in Leadville. The Cardinals have shown flashes of good play in recent weeks and continue to improve on both sides of the ball. The tough schedule just doesn’t provide them with a break.
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The Coal Ridge High boys suffered their first 3A Western Slope League loss of the year Thursday night on the road at Gunnison, falling to the defending league champion Cowboys 65-45.