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Dove Creek spoils Dolores senior night

Taber Dejane takes off for a Dove Creek touchdown in September as the Bulldogs beat Hayden 50-0.Sam Green/Special to The Journal
Early Bulldogs barrage all but locks up playoff home game

DOLORES – For both the Bears and Bulldogs, their Thursday gridiron clash signaled the turning of a page.

For the home-standing Bears, Senior Night carried the emotional farewell to over a half-dozen soon-to-be graduates enjoying the program’s most competitive season in years.

As for the visiting Bulldogs, their 48-0 victory helped Dove Creek begin to shift their focus from the regular season to the postseason ahead.

The Bulldogs (6-2, 2-1 8-man Mountain League) scored all five of their first-half touchdowns from outside the red zone, including two apiece for seniors Gage Buffington and Taber Dejane to build a comfortable lead.

The first of Buffington’s TDs came through the air from senior quarterback Colten Fury, minutes before Fury connected with sophomore Josh Kibel for their second aerial score and a 16-0 lead. Dove Creek doubled their advantage by the end of the opening quarter, running behind the blocking of junior center Liam Hassell, along with junior Sheldon Gardner and senior Mike Coffey.

With their matchup against Sargent and the Bulldogs own Senior Night in jeopardy because of the Farmers’ struggles to field a team, Dove Creek might very well have played their final contest of the regular season. That caveat might have been in the back of head coach Jason Fury’s mind when the Bulldogs turned to their second unit to take the reins late in the second quarter to play the entire second half to get in possibly some of their final reps of 2023.

That group proved to be effective as well, as freshman Teagan Larimore took a handoff from classmate Cael Beanland and scored his first high school varsity touchdown from 6 yards out to cap the scoring.

Ty Gaddis hauls in a pass along the sideline in September against Norwood.Sam Green/Special to The Journal

On the other sideline, the Bears (2-6, 0-3 8-man Mountain League) honored their stalwart senior class, who had overcome plenty of challenges, including a year as a junior varsity program, and a transition from 11 to 8-man football over their four-year tenure. Senior captains Ty Gaddis and Brody Gottman, along with plenty of other Bears had taken second-year head coach Joseph Gonzales’ encouragement to heart – persevering through growing pains to pick up the program’s best start in nearly two decades.

The Bears’ youth movement leaned on the leadership of their upperclassmen, as the program continues to close in on the upper echelon of the Mountain League. Dolores wraps up their regular season on the road in Sanford next Friday evening at 6 p.m.

Dove Creek, meanwhile, will wait to see if their regular season finale will actually take place – Sargent has forfeited two league contests already – as the game time is slated for Friday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. Dove Creek sits in the top 5 in the most recent CHSAA Selection and Seeding Index, meaning the Bulldogs have almost certainly assured themselves a home contest in the 8-man postseason which begins on the first weekend in November.