Bulldogs take show on road
Dove Creek will play at Granada in the 8-man quarterfinal playoffs
That’s what the Granada Bobcats 8-man football team has been.
And, that’s what the Dove Creek Bulldogs must become.
Dove Creek successfully defended its home field the last two weeks, resulting in two postseason wins.
Granada, the 16-seed in the playoffs, won its cross-divisional game at McClave 46-12 on Oct. 27. But the Bobcats shocked the state last Saturday.
Granada (6-4) traveled to Greeley and knocked off defending state champion Dayspring Christian Academy, 32-27.
“We went up there with nothing to lose,” ninth-year Bobcats coach Manuel Gonzales told the Lamar Ledger. “We played our hearts out on both offense and defense. We scored and they scored, and they couldn’t stop us and we couldn’t stop them. It came down to who was going to score at the end and we did. We made a big stop against them on a fourth down play late in the game and that was huge.”
DCA was ranked No. 1, undefeated and possessed a 22-game winning streak.
That’s high school playoff football — anything can happen.
For their heroic efforts, the Bobcats will play at home Saturday afternoon against eight-seeded Dove Creek (7-2).
Although the Bulldogs are the higher seed, they will be treated like an underdog. Shane Baughman and his team will travel 448 miles east to Granada and play in front of what is sure to be a hostile crowd.
However, the Bulldogs can take solace in the fact that they are 3-0 in true road games, including a 22-14 win over Mountain League champion Sargent.
The Sargent game saw bulldozing senior fullback Klancey Krafka go down with a season ending injury. Cole Baughman has moved to fullback and speedy sophomore Chance Randolph is now the starting tailback.
“Cole is such a good lead blocker and we haven’t had that since we lost Klancey,” Shane Baughman said.
With Chance’s older brother Dalton Randolph under center, the offense has taken its chances and flourished.
About three weeks ago, coach Baughman and his staff were evaluating how to make the Bulldogs better.
The answer was more speed, and that meant getting the fastest player on the team more touches.
Chance Randolph is the team’s fastest player, and after last Saturday’s dominating 39-12 victory over West Grand, getting him into the lineup has worked very well.
To make the move work, three positions were impacted. Moving Chance Randolph and Cole Baughman meant Tyler Ebberts was moved from fullback to tight end, which was where he started the season.
Chance Randolph didn’t have a carry in the Bulldogs’ loss to Norwood but in the last two games, he has rushed 155 and 106 yards in both contests, respectively.
Even though he wasn’t in the backfield against Norwood, Randolph still showed off his speed with an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Since Cole Baughman’s move from tailback to fullback, the senior has had a lot fewer touches running the ball.
“Fullback is not a glory position,” Shane Baughman said. “It’s one of those selfless positions and I‘m really proud of how Cole has handled it. He’s doing the right thing for the team right now.”
Bottom line, the Bulldogs are playing well and have a great opportunity to advance to the semifinals with a win Saturday. No Dove Creek football team has made it to the final four in the 8-man classification.
The Bulldogs may be on the brink of a history.
Kickoff is Saturday at 1 p.m. in Granada.
Notes: Granada finished third in the Arkansas Valley League behind Walsh and Springfield. Walsh (No. 6) will host Akron (No. 3) Saturday. Granada is 2-0 against Dove Creek in the 8-man playoffs. The Bobcats beat the Bulldogs 51-18 in 2008 and won 35-0 in 2006, a year that saw Granada win the state championship. Bobcats coach Manuel Gonzales has stated he will step down at the end of the season. Granada is a southeastern Colorado town near the Kansas border with an elevation of less than 4,000-feet.
Dale Shrull contributed to this story.