The opponent may have been a smaller classification school Friday night, but it was another state title contender that lined up across from the Bayfield Wolverines.
After having a 2A Southwest League game against Manitou Springs removed from the schedule when the Mustangs decided to cancel their fall football season because of COVID-19, the Wolverines were able to schedule Class 1A Florence High School for a matchup Friday night in Florence.
The Huskies, ranked fourth in 1A, proved to be a formidable foe, as they ran through the visiting Wolverines in a 49-7 victory. BHS fell to 0-4 during this six-game regular season. It is the team’s first 0-4 start since 2006 and the first in the tenure of head coach Gary Heide, who has led the Wolverines to two state championships since he took over the program in 2012.
“I really believe we have the guys to fix the problem and win some games. It’s up to me. I take full responsibility of not getting them a victory yet,” Heide said. “I have faith in these fellas. They are fine young men, work hard and are good football players. There’s no reason the head coach can’t get them a win.”
Florence (4-0) stormed to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter behind stifling defense and efficient running. It was 21-0 at halftime after the Wolverines were twice denied a scoring chance on the goal line, including on the final play of the first half when BHS quarterback Isaac Ross was tackled from behind at the 1-yard line as he looked to run into the end zone as time expired.
That came after a big interception by Bayfield’s Deegan Barnes, who was all over the field Friday night. His interception came after the BHS offense had reached the Florence 2-yard line before a penalty made it second-and-goal on the Florence 17. Unable to regain the yardage lost on the penalty, the Wolverines turned the ball over on downs.
“It was frustrating because, down 21-0, anything can happen,” Heide said. “If we get one or two of those in for touchdowns, we’re right in it. It’s frustrating.”
BHS did score in the second half of a game for the first time this season. It came on the first play of the fourth quarter on a 1-yard run by Barnes. Before the score, BHS had been outscored 79-0 in the second half of games this season.
“Deegan Barnes really stepped up and took the place of a player that was out, Cade Carlson,” Heide said. “We found out good things about Deegan. He can run the ball and is physical on defense. He’s a sophomore who works hard and has a great future.”
But that would be the lone Wolverines’ score. Ross finished the game 10-for-21 passing for 155 yards and the one interception for BHS. Crosby Edwards had another big game with three catches for 77 yards, while Caden Wood emerged in the passing game as a weapon with five catches for 62 yards.
Cael Schaefer led the Wolverines in rushing with 40 yards on 12 carries.
The Huskies had a potent run game led by Owen Busetti, Jacob Kennedy and quarterback Lincoln Nix. Kennedy ran 14 times for 116 yards and two touchdowns, while Busetti ran 12 times for 90 yards and two more scores of his own. Nix tallied six runs for 41 yards, while he was 0-for-2 passing.
In the fourth quarter, Jian Aguilar scored twice for Florence. First, he returned a Bayfield kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown. Later in the quarter, he would score on a 35-yard TD run.
Xavier Martinez added the final score of the game for Florence on an 18-yard TD run to set up a running clock for the mercy rule, and the game quickly finished from there with the Huskies up 49-7.
While Florence had zero passing yards, the team did amass 304 on the ground to Bayfield’s 63.
It was two big Kennedy runs that set up the first score of the game before Busetti pounded it in the end zone on a 4-yard run. It was 7-0 with 8:10 to go in the first quarter after the initial drive of the game.
Ross would be intercepted on his first pass attempt of the game for BHS. He picked up a low, rolling snap and fired a pass that was picked off by Joseph Boyer of Florence. With the ball on the Bayfield 34, Florence needed only a couple of plays before Kennedy scored a 5-yard TD run to make it 14-0 with 6:34 to go in the first quarter.
BHS momentarily prevented Florence from making it 21-0 when Mark Loutherback made a touchdown-saving tackle of Kennedy to set up a fourth-and-goal from the Bayfield 3. Nix would try a pass on fourth down, but it was dropped in the end zone, and BHS took over the ball.
But the Wolverines went nowhere and had to punt. The snap went over the Bayfield punter’s head. He picked it up, ran out of the end zone to avoid a safety but was tackled at the 5-yard line. One play later, Busetti scored on a 5-yard run to make it 21-0 with 5:55 to go in the first half.
With two games to play, the schedule will finally get easier for BHS with its first non-ranked opponent. It will be Alamosa at 7 p.m. Friday at Wolverine Country Stadium in the final scheduled home game for BHS. Then, it will be a trip to La Junta to finish the schedule the following week.
“We are where we’re at, but we look forward to a home game with Alamosa and going out to get a win,” Heide said.