Heading into its key road matchup against Sanford on Oct. 30, the Dove Creek High School football team was brimming with confidence and hopeful that it would walk away with its fourth straight win.
A spate of turnovers, including four interceptions and a fumble by junior quarterback Chorbin Cressler, undid the Bulldogs however, as they suffered a 36-12 defeat at the hands of one of Colorado’s top eight-man teams.
“Our running game was there, but we had five turnovers, and that was key,” Dove Creek head coach Shane Baughman said. “What we need to understand is that against a good team like (Sanford), we have to be happy with five yards at a whack. Sometimes we tried to do too much and that ended up costing us.”
Among the top offensive performers for Dove Creek was senior running back Gauge Thompson, who carried the ball 14 times for 81 yards and caught four passes for 51 yards and one score. Fellow senior running back Gage Bailey ran for 67 yards and one score, and Cressler ran for 104 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bulldogs were led by senior Hayden Gray, who had a team-high 13 tackles, and senior Austin Beanland, who pressured the quarterback throughout the evening and was credited with three sacks.
“(Beanland) played great defensively and offensively, he hustled the whole time,” Baughman said. “(Sanford) had a great big nose guard in front of him (when he was playing center on offense) and that was tough, but he did a pretty good job.”
After giving up the first touchdown of the contest when Sanford junior Kelton Gartrell raced into the end zone from five yards out, Dove Creek tied the game, 6-6 ,when Bailey scored a two-yard rushing touchdown late in the first quarter.
A long interception return for a touchdown and a 22-yard rushing touchdown by Gartrell during the second quarter put Sanford ahead 18-6 heading into halftime, and Sanford extended its lead to 24-6 after Gartrell scored another rushing touchdown early in the third quarter.
Although a 10-yard touchdown pass from Cressler to Thompson late in the third quarter put Dove Creek within striking distance at 24-12, the Bulldogs never got closer as Sanford scored two touchdowns during a decisive fourth quarter and put the game away.
“(Gartrell) is a strong kid, and he’s tough to bring down,” Baughman said of Sanford’s star running back. “He was all-state last year as a sophomore. We did some things fundamentally wrong when we were trying to tackle him.”
Now 3-1 on the season and currently ranked No. 9 in the Colorado High School Activity Association’s latest eight-man football poll, Dove Creek will prepare for an all-important road matchup against Mancos High School on Nov. 6.
Currently 4-0 and ranked No. 5 overall in the Colorado High School Activity Association’s latest poll, the Bluejays figure to present a stiff challenge to the Bulldogs, who Baughman said will need to play solid football if they hope to walk away with a win.
“(Mancos) is kind of a spitting image of Sanford,” the Dove Creek coach explained. “They have a great running back with Chase Moore. They lull you to sleep with the run and then they ding you with the pass. We have to stay disciplined and play disciplined football.”