Undefeated Bears Talk Quarterfinal Matchup
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.--No. 1 Rifle took the practice field at 1 p.m. on Friday in an attempt to replicate Saturday's quarterfinal matchup against No. 8 Roosevelt.
Much has been said about senior running back Ryan Moeller, who is second in the state with 2,464 yards on the ground and 35 touchdowns.
But besides Rifle's scary rushing attack, it's their defense that's also helped put them in a league of their own.
The undefeated Bears are outscoring their opponents 475-35 and coming off their sixth shutout of the season.
Rifle fell in the second round of last year's playoffs, but this time around, the team is very familiar with their quarterfinal opponent.
"They're big and they're tough kids," senior Hugo Ruelas said of Roosevelt. "I remember last year playing them. They'll come out, and we'll have a good game tomorrow."
The Bears edged out the Roughriders 14-7 in the opening round of the 2011 playoffs.
"Last year we did a lot of what people said we wouldn't be able to do," senior Eli Boone said. "This year, it feels like we're still trying to compete and tell people that we can do things. And we are."
Moeller also thinks this year's team has a better shot at going further into the playoffs.
"I feel like we're a lot better," he said. "We're more sound. Not saying that we weren't as good last year, but I definitely feel like we feel more comfortable this year."
This season no one has come close to stopping Rifle, which is eying its first state title since 2004.
But as far as head coach Damon Wells is concerned, no record could ever define this team.
"The playoffs are a reward for the hard work and everything that the kids have put into the program," he said. "I understand the nature of the beast in the playoffs--that if you have a bad day, your season's over.
"Ultimately, we feel like we're incredibly prepared, but these kids have done so much work and they're such great kids, that, we refuse to be defined by any one day."
Saturday's winner will advance to the state semifinals against either No. 5 Pueblo East or No. 13 Delta. Kickoff for both games set for 1 p.m.