Bulldogs back at it

Dove Creek hosts Sanford in 8-man cross-divisional game Saturday

Dove Creek quarterback Dalton Randolph breaks around the end for a big gain last Friday night in the 8-man Western League championship against Norwood. The Bulldogs host Sanford on Saturday in the cross-divisional postseason game. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Dove Creek quarterback Dalton Randolph breaks around the end for a big gain last Friday night in the 8-man Western League championship against Norwood. The Bulldogs host Sanford on Saturday in the cross-divisional postseason game.

Last Friday night, the Dove Creek Bulldogs stood on their football field and wondered, what could have been?

Early turnovers and seven failed 2-point conversions were the difference between first-place and second-place.

A valiant comeback effort came up short in a 47-42 loss to rival Norwood in the 8-man Western League championship.

That was then and this is now.

The Bulldogs aren’t looking back — they’re going forward. Dove Creek (5-2) is preparing to host Sanford (5-3) in the cross-divisional postseason game Saturday afternoon.

While the Bulldogs have gone toe-to-toe with some of Colorado’s best this season, they know Sanford presents another huge challenge.

“They’re big! They’re a big team,” said first-year coach Shane Baughman with great emphasis. “It looks to me they shot themselves in the foot against Sargent. They had quite a few turnovers. But they’re a pretty solid team. They got a big fullback. We’ll have our work cut out for us.”

The Sanford Indians had early turnovers last Friday against Mountain League champ Sargent. Unfortunately, it was too much to overcome, as Sanford was defeated soundly, 56-12.

Taking care of the football will be very important for both teams.

“We need to clean up some ball security turnovers,” Baughman said. “It comes down to execution and cleaning things up. I hope we get it done this weekend.”

Obviously, a Dove Creek win is important. A loss would end the Bulldogs season. A victory will place Dove Creek in the 16-team 8-man playoffs.

If the Bulldogs can have a strong performance against Sanford and come out with a win, that will go a long way for a top-eight seed in the playoffs. The top-eight host a first-round playoff game. Dove Creek is ranked eight by the Denver Post and ninth by Coloradopreps.com.

“We’re right on the bubble,” said Baughman about hosting a first-round playoff game. “It will help us the way we played Norwood, Sargent and the way we played Elbert the first half. But we got to take care of business this weekend.”

The Bulldogs beat Sargent on the road and were tied with No. 4 Elbert at the half before losing 38-14.

“I know the kids are confident. The kids can play with anybody,” Baughman said. “We’ve had a couple freshmen step in and do a good job.”

Baughman is counting on the underclassmen to compliment senior playmakers Dalton Randolph (quarterback/linebacker), Cole Baughman (running back/linebacker) and Tyler Ebberts (tight end/linebacker). Sophomore Chance Randolph has played significant minutes at running back after senior Klancey Krafka was lost to injury for the season in week 2.

“I’ve challenged our JVs this week to give our varsity a good look. It’s on them, too,” coach Baughman said. “They go hard in practice and get our varsity ready to go. Hopefully, we can carry that into Saturday.”

Kickoff in Dove Creek is set for 1 p.m.

bobbya@cortezjournal.com.