DOVE CREEK – It’s not a good time to run into Dove Creek.
After capping off the regular season, head coach Shane Baughman’s Bulldogs have shifted into playoff mode. Their semifinal run from a season ago have whetted the appetite of a hungry group of experienced Bulldogs looking to take the next step this year.
Crowley County found out the hard way, running into a buzz saw at the Soper Sports Complex on Saturday, as Dove Creek scored 28 second-quarter points en route to a 50-0 thumping of the Chargers.
Dove Creek (7-2, 3-1 Mountain League) entered as the state’s No. 4 seed in the eight-man classification and made quick work of the No. 13 Chargers.
Senior quarterback Chorbin Cressler found the end zone three times, twice via his legs, and once as a receiver to help the Bulldogs ease into the quarterfinals.
Dove Creek, playing in front of a raucous home crowd for perhaps the final time this season, wasted little time in taking the game to the Arkansas Valley League runner-up.
Crowley County (6-4, 4-2 Arkansas Valley) boasted a strong offense, led by senior quarterback Tach Brewer, but Dove Creek put him on his heels all afternoon.
The Bulldogs took their first possession of the game down the field, and less than four minutes into the contest, Cressler took a keeper in from a yard out to put the hosts in front 8-0.
After another defensive stop, junior Kade Hankins began to make his impact in the contest, rushing in from 10 yards out to double the Dove Creek advantage late in first quarter.
If Crowley County was going to keep dreaming that they would make it a game, those ambitions were dashed in the second quarter. Sophomore Gage Buffington burst through the line from 13 yards early in the second quarter, followed shortly thereafter by Cressler’s second TD of the game, a 43-yard explosion, making the score 32-0 midway through the frame.
With another defensive hold, the Bulldogs got the ball back with good field position, and put their fifth TD on the board via Buffington’s 6-yarder.
Then, on the stroke of halftime, the Bulldogs iced the game, with Cressler on the receiving end. Hankins took the pitch, then went with a halfback pass to a wide-open Cressler for a 66-yard strike to push the game to running clock right before halftime.
With the mercy rule in effect, Dove Creek could enjoy the second half, adding one more score on a pass from Cressler to sophomore Taber Dejane to help the Bulldogs break the half-century mark.
A strong defensive effort, led by senior nose guard Blane Johnson, kept the shutout intact, while the Bulldog faithful enjoyed a thorough thumping of the Chargers.
Dove Creek’s win, coupled with Mancos’ victory over Fowler, helped establish an impressive playoff-opening weekend for Mountain League teams over Arkansas Valley competition.
The Bulldogs will get the lone remaining representative from the Arkansas Valley League – the champions Holly – in the quarterfinals next weekend on the road. The Wildcats (9-1, 6-0 Arkansas Valley) picked up a 37-20 win over Swink in their playoff opener, thanks in part to senior quarterback Dakota Eaton’s nearly 2,000 yards passing this year. Holly also has a pair of upperclassmen running backs, Daunte Maldonado and Donovan Pecina, with over 1,300 combined rushing yards.
The Bulldogs and Wildcats will play their quarterfinal matchup next Saturday, Nov. 13th just a couple of miles from the Kansas border with a date in the state semifinal on the line.