After enjoying decades of domination and appearing in the playoffs numerous times, the Dove Creek High School football team found itself in a rebuilding phase in recent seasons and has not played a postseason game since 2015.
The Bulldogs appear poised to take a big step forward this season, however, thanks to sophomore quarterback Chorbin Cressler, who piloted his team to a 5-4 record last season and established himself as one of the most explosive players in the A-8 Mountain League.
Figuring to improve on his 1,243 rushing yards, 582 passing yards and 25 total touchdowns, Cressler will be joined in the backfield by junior running backs Gauge Thompson and Gage Bailey, who appear to have improved during the offseason.
Serving as the Bulldogs’ two feature backs last season, Thompson rushed for 480 yards and eight touchdowns, while Bailey rushed for 344 yards and three touchdowns. Freshman running backs Cole Tabor and Kendall Gardner could also see time in the Dove Creek backfield.
Among the players likely to lead this year’s Dove Creek defense is junior linebacker Walker Cressler, whose combination of speed and power could allow him to emerge as one of the league’s top playmakers.
Although Dove Creek will be somewhat undersized on the offensive and defensive lines, junior Austin Beanland has been looking good at the center position during practices, and a spate of others, including junior Kyle Carrol and senior Will McKellips, will look to open holes for their team’s running backs and create pressure on the defensive side of the ball.
Dove Creek will open its season with a road contest against Monument Valley on Aug. 30 and will then play on the road against Rangely on Sept. 6.
The Bulldogs will open their home schedule against Plateau Valley on Sept. 13.