By Ryan Mackley –

It took awhile to write this one.

Saturday December 1 was tough.

The Rifle Bear’s unbeaten streak came to a sudden and crashing halt and the Silver Creek Raptors are the Colorado 3A State Champions for 2012.

What Happened?

I have heard this question a lot around our community over the last few weeks. I think that the best answer is that, on a day when they didn’t play their best football, Rifle ran into a quality football team that simply matched-up with the Bears better than any other opponent had all year.

Was Silver Creek a better overall team than Rifle in 2012? Well, on December 1, clearly the answer was yes, but looking at their resumes throughout the season I still believe that the Bears would win a majority of the time if the teams played ten games. Just like Florence and Niwot would have likely won a mjority of times versus the Bears State Championship team in 2004. The point is that the Raptors put in an almost flawless effort when it mattered most and in doing so are 100% deserving to be raising the state championship trophy but, at the same time, Rifle has absolutely nothing to hang their heads about.

Putting the Season in Perspective

Rifle has never seen a season like 2012. Like this year’s group, the 2002 and 2011 teams both finished the regular season at 10-0. But the 2012 Bears posted 13 wins in a row, easily eclipsing the record of 11 wins in a row they had set just the year before. The 1973 state championship team (11-1) has always been (and will continue to be) the standard for Rifle teams to look to, but keep in mind that in 1973 it only took 12 games to bring home the state title.

Nearly every team offensive and defensive record was shattered this season and Ryan Moeller broke a lot of the individual records as well. The Bears amassed 595 points on offense and surrendered just 107. Rifle’s defense posted six shutouts (one in the playoffs) and on seven different occasions the Bears defeated an opponent by more than 40 points (twice in the playoffs).

Looking Ahead

There are certainly those around the state that believe that Rifle will fall precipitously with the graduation of Ryan Moeller and the rest of the stellar 2012-2013 senior class. But to those that study the Bears closely, there is likely to be a lot more success on the horizon. The defense returns 7 starters and the offense returns 5. While Rifle can no longer depend on the amazing running talents of Ryan Moeller, they have more than enough pieces to build a potent offense in 2013. Defensively, the Bears will be tough again with a lot of good young options to replace senior stalwarts like Cody Beauford, Lee Harrison and Hugo Ruelas.