And Bayfield’s adventure continues

4th-ranked BHS football will host Western League upstart Coal Ridge

Bayfield High School head football coach Gary Heide expected the Western League to produce an adventure every week during its inaugural 2012 schedule.

Welcome to the Wild West.

For the fourth consecutive week, the Bayfield Wolverines will play an unbeaten conference opponent when upstart Coal Ridge High School visits Wolverine Country Stadium for a 7 p.m. Friday kickoff.

“We know Coal Ridge will come in here with a lot to play for,” Heide said. “They’ve got a lot at stake, and we know they’ll be ready.”

Coal Ridge (4-1) won its third consecutive Western League game last weekend with a 27-0 victory over Pagosa Springs on the Titans’ home field, located along Interstate 70 between New Castle and Silt.

Leading rusher Chris Contreras, a junior, ran for more than 100 yards in the win. He’s averaging 116 yards per game in the Titans’ offense, which is led by Michael Shaw.

Cole Zywiec, averaging 14 tackles per game, leads the defense.

Less than 10 years old, Coal Ridge is building an athletic identity with great anticipation for tonight’s road game against No. 4-ranked Bayfield, the state runner-up from a year ago.

The Wolverines, behind their experienced offensive line, beat No. 7 Grand Valley 23-18 on the road last weekend to climb to 5-0, 3-0 in the Western League. They are ranked No. 4 by coloradopreps.com.

The BHS line cleared the way for 373 rushing yards by the Wolverines in last week’s showdown of ranked teams.

“TJ Pazell had a great game for us, but you still have to do the blocking,” Heide said. “Our line did a great job.”

Pazell finished with 216 yards rushing and three touchdowns. He’s averaging 170 yards per game in the BHS triple-option offense.

Teammate Michael Hawkins, with an 83-yard touchdown run to his credit, is averaging nearly 60 rushing yards per game in the multiple attack that also features quarterback Matt Knickerbocker as well as Allec Rodriguez and Anthony Chamblee.

Heide said the Wolverines had to respond to the pressure of a big road trip to Parachute in a game where Bayfield fell behind 6-0 on the first series of the football game.

“We had to fight back from the start,” Heide said after the Wolverines marched down the field to tie the game on the second series. “That was a huge scoring drive. Really, we had to perform well in all three phases of the game.”

The lead changed hands five times in the battle of unbeatens.

“We responded to adversity,” Heide said.

This week, he said, the Wolverines will need a complete game against a Titans’ team that is writing Coal Ridge school history, game by game.

The Titans beat Pagosa, Olathe (13-6) and Gunnison (36-16) in consecutive Western League games. Coal Ridge also beat Class A Meeker 39-20 and lost to Class 3A No. 1 Rifle (45-6) in nonconference games. Coal Ridge is located in the Rifle school district.

“We’ll have to play our best,” Heide said. “And we feel like we haven’t played a complete game yet.”

dstrode@ durangoherald.com