Thirteen minutes into its home game against Rangely on Aug. 31, the Dove Creek High School football team trailed 14-6 and appeared poised to compete for a victory. Twelve difficult minutes later, the Bulldogs trailed 51-6, and hopes of winning were all but lost.
“We were playing right with them, and then we kind of got sloppy, and we weren’t disciplined with our emotions,” Dove Creek head coach Shane Baughman said. “If we learn one thing from this game, it’s that we can’t let our emotions take over.”
The game began on a positive note for the home team, and its fans as Dove Creek’s defense stood tall on the game’s opening possession and forced Rangely to punt. On Rangely’s second offensive possession of the game, Austin Green recovered a fumble, much to the chagrin of teammates and fans.
Although Rangely’s offense started to catch fire late in the first quarter and scored twice to pull ahead 14-0, Dove Creek refused to yield and cut the gap to 14-6 with 11:50 left in the second quarter when Gauge Thompson scored a 31-yard rushing touchdown.
Rangely outscored Dove Creek 37-0 over the next 11 minutes, however, and as Dove Creek players headed toward their end zone at halftime, trailing 51-6, shoulders were hunched, and players appeared shell-shocked.
“We played more as a team last week, and we didn’t drop our heads as much,” said Dove Creek’s freshman quarterback, Chorbine Cressler. “I definitely learned a lot from this game. I can act more as a team leader and not let things make me mad as easily.”
After Dove Creek’s coaching staff delivered a stern lecture during the halftime break, Bulldogs players returned to the field and played far better and outscored Rangely 12-6 during the second half.
“I hope that (our players) got our message that we weren’t very happy with them at halftime,” Baughman said. “They cleaned up their emotions in the second half, and that was the difference.”
Among the second-half highlights for Dove Creek was a 55-yard touchdown and a 60-yard touchdown run by Cressler, who showed off fancy footwork on both plays and evaded numerous Rangely defenders.
Dove Creek’s offensive line, led by JD Dennison, Hayden Grey and Austin Green, also played well throughout the second half while opening numerous running lanes for Cressler and his teammates.
“I just love to run the ball, even though I’m quarterback,” Cressler said. “I love to make cuts and make people look bad on the field.”
Now 1-1 on the season, Dove Creek will return to the practice field to prepare for a road matchup against Plateau Valley on Sept. 8.
“I know nothing about Plateau Valley,” Baughman said. “They are always different every year. They sometimes get unbelievable athletes from as far away as New York City, so we’ll have to be ready to go.”