The Bobcats have been through a gridiron grinder.
Ignacio High School head football coach Lupe Huerta said he’ll be missing at least two of his starting players tonight in the teams’ final game against Dolores to wrap up a season that’s seen the teams’ numbers dwindle with each passing week.
The Bobcats lost sophomore leading rusher Iaasic Peña to a neck injury this week, as well as freshman wide reciever Charles Rhode to a concussion. And Huerta said illness has been making the rounds, too, leaving the squad depleted for practice.
“It’s going to have an impact,” he said.
“We’re not going to be limited too much, just on how aggressive we can get with those particular kids in the lineup,” Huerta said about filling the gaps with some older but less-experienced players.
“We’ve got some other kids that we’re going to plug in.”
The good news for the Bobcats is the Bears might be a few cubs short of a den, too. The Dolores team was forced to forfeit its game against Centauri last week with 20 of their 28 players ineligible to play – at least 10 for violating the team code of conduct and the others because of poor grades, according to The Cortez Journal.
“I know they had some issues,” Huerta said. “So I don’t know how badly that will affect them.”
One way or the other, the game plan remains the same.
The Bears feature a dangerous run game, Huerta said, so his team’s job is to shut it down and force Dolores to put the bail in the air.
“They’re pretty solid. They’ve got some speed,” Huerta said. “They’ve got a decent run game on the outside, and we’ve got to contain that.”
The Bears’ Mikeal Ford will be the one Bobcats’ defensive leaders Blaine Mickey, a lineman, and Austin Haire, a linebacker, we be looking to shut down.
“They need to have a big game defensively to make sure we stop that run,” Huerta said.
“I want (Dolores) to pass the ball.”
The Bobcats have had a tendency to give up big plays all year, trading big stops on one play for a big gain the next, especially on the ground.
“They’re going to get their yards,” Huerta said. “We just have to make sure we don’t give up any big plays.
“The big thing for me is we limit what they get and try to control the line of scrimmage.”
On the other side of the ball, Huerta said he’ll keep relying on quarterback Adison Jones, particularly through the air. He’ll also be looking to Clayton Jefferson, already a critical element of the receiving game, to step up.
“He’s a big key,” Huerta said. “He’s going to have to pick up the slack with Iaasic gone.”
At 2-6 overall and 1-3 in the Southern Peaks League, the Bobcats are looking to pick up a second conference win after beating Center 18-13 on Oct. 12. They’ve also got a chance to spoil the Bears’ (3-5, 2-2 SPL) hopes of a winning conference record.
“Our goal (tonight), we want to stop their offense,” Huerta said. “I know we can score; it’s defensively that we’ve struggled.
“Either way, I think it’s going to be a tough game.”