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Bayfield football scores league championship

Wolverines beat Montezuma-Cortez, 56-18
Montezuma-Cortez’s Mason Anderson, left, tackles Bayfield’s Caden Wood as Ryder Higgins (5) and Dalton Muzzy (15) move in to finish the tackle Friday. Wood’s reception and run inside the 5-yard line set up the first Bayfield touchdown. (Sam Green/Special to the Herald)

Bayfield’s football Wolverines wrapped up the Southwest 2A League championship Friday with a resounding 56-18 win at Montezuma-Cortez.

Isaac Ross, the leading passer in the league, threw five touchdown passes for Bayfield to bring his season total to 16. James Mars caught three from Ross and a fourth from Deegan Barnes on a halfback pass.

Bayfield won the toss and chose to receive. For the third straight game, they marched down the field for an early touchdown and a lead they would never relinquish. Barnes scored from 3 yards out for the first score with 6:39 left in the opening stanza.

Cortez surprised the visitors with an old-fashioned hook and ladder on their opening series that scored from 35 yards out. The extra point failed, and Bayfield continued to lead 7-6.

Bayfield scored twice more in the first quarter with a pass to Mars and later a Cael Schaefer 6-yard run. Zane Liddell was good on extra-point kicks as the Wolverines extended their lead to 21-6. Liddell would be successful on six of seven tries for the night.

Freshman Tay Wheat scored his first of two touchdowns for Cortez with a 6-yard run with 9:01 to go in the half and closed the margin to 21-12.

Senior Will Sullivan got into the scoring action with two 3-yard touchdown receptions from Ross, helping Bayfield extend its lead to 34-12 at the half.

Zander Cruzan catches a pass and takes the ball down the field for a Panthers first down on Friday. (Sam Green/Special to the Herald)

The Wolverines have had trouble in the third quarter in recent games, but it was Cortez that committed unforced errors early in the second half. After a brief possession by Cortez, Mars caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Ross in the first minute of the quarter. A minute later, a fourth-down snap went over the Panthers punter’s head and through the end zone for a safety, making it 43-12.

Wheat showed his speed with 5:38 left in the third quarter when he raced down the sideline 79 yards for Cortez’s final score of the night. Bayfield closed out the scoring with a 30-yard pass to Mars and then a fourth-quarter halfback pass from Barnes to Mars of 14 yards with 7:22 left in the game.

For Montezuma-Cortez (3-5 1-2), will end its season Friday at Salida.

Bayfield (6-1 3-0) will close out the regular season at 7 p.m. Friday with a home game against rival Pagosa Springs (2-6 1-2). It is the 69th gridiron meeting between the two schools dating to 1946. The Wolverines need the win to place themselves in the top eight seeding for the 16-team 2A playoffs, which will begin the following weekend. The top eight will host first round games. A loss would put Bayfield out of that top group and on the road for that first round.