BAYFIELD – Football practice ran like business as usual this week.
The Wolverines quickly moved from station to station, answering the whistles of the assistant coaches in each corner of the Bayfield High School practice field.
Head coach Gary Heide, per usual, kept a close eye on all the Wolverines as they wrapped up their drill work and gathered for a closer look at this week’s opponent: Gunnison.
Never mind the Wolverines are unbeaten (6-0) and ranked No. 3 among Class 2A football teams.
Never mind the visiting Cowboys are winless (0-6).
“From what I’ve seen on film, they are not an 0-6 team,” Heide said. “They move the ball very well on offense. They’ve got some fine athletes, some nice-sized athletes, a couple of quick backs.”
Heide said the Cowboys had success moving the football against the top teams in the Western League, such as Aspen, Basalt and Grand Valley.
Turnovers, however, cost Gunnison in a 27-17 loss to Basalt, then again in a 40-20 loss to seventh-ranked Grand Valley.
“This is the time of the season, if a team is persistent, they can put it together,” Heide said of today’s 7 p.m. matchup at Wolverine Country Stadium – a dangerous homecoming contest.
“And they run a defense that we haven’t seen yet this year,” Heide said of the “33 stack” D.
“It’s a defense that can give the option fits in terms of alignment and what it does to the option,” Heide said. “Your read options may be different.”
The Gunnison defense, similar to Bayfield’s smothering defense, will face a Wolverines’ offense that is averaging 29.7 points and 270 rushing yards per game.
Senior TJ Pazell leads the charge, averaging 8.86 yards per carry this season for the Wolverines, who are ranked No. 3 in Class 2A by The Denver Post. He’s posted 620 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.
Sophomore option quarterback Matt Knickerbocker, who started last year as a wide receiver, has produced eight touchdowns – five rushing and three passing.
“We’ll have to perform well right away,” Heide said. “It is homecoming week; there’s always a fear of distractions.”
The team, he said, needs to come out and play like it has played – only better.
“You have to get better as a team. You still have to take steps and get better,” Heide said.
The Wolverines (6-0, 4-0 WL) trail only Kent Denver (6-0) and Eaton (6-0) in the Post 2A poll.
Bayfield is No. 4 in the coloradopreps.com poll, one spot behind defending state champion Florence (5-1). Florence beat Bayfield in the CHSAA Class 2A Boys Football State Championships title game last year.
Other ranked teams in the coloradopreps.com football poll:
No. 5 Platte Valley of Kersey (5-1).
No. 6 Faith Christian (4-2).
No. 7 Grand Valley (5-1).
No. 8 Brush (4-2).
No. 9 Manitou Springs (5-1).
No. 10 La Junta (5-1).
Tonight’s league game against Gunnison will be Bayfield’s final regular-season home game. The Wolverines will travel to Olathe next week before finishing the regular season at Pagosa Springs in two weeks.
“Yes, we’re in a good spot,” Heide said of his state-ranked Wolverines. “But we haven’t accomplished anything yet.”