Playing Kirtland Central to open the season has become tradition for the Bayfield High School football team.
The Broncos and Wolverines will meet in the last weekend in August for the fourth consecutive year when Class 2A No. 8 Bayfield travels to Kirtland, New Mexico, at 7 p.m. Friday.
BHS has won two of three recent meetings, including a 48-6 stomping at Wolverine Country Stadium last year.
That win provided the blueprint the Wolverines hope to follow this year rather than the close contest of the previous two seasons.
“They’re scrappy, and if we let them hang around like we did my sophomore year, they’ll step on us,” said BHS senior quarterback Kelton McCoy, son of Derek and Loreca McCoy. “If we jump on them, we won’t have any problem with them.”
BHS scored at least two touchdowns in both of its wins and only managed six points total in the 2013 loss.
The Wolverines leaned heavily on running back Zane Phelps in both games.
He ran for 137 yards last year and 99 yards in 2013 and figures to remain a large part of the Wolverines’ offense despite a switch to a more shotgun-oriented system this year.
Phelps, now a senior, made the Colorado High School Activities Association Class 2A All-State second team last year.
Fellow backs Taed Heydinger and Brody McGhehey will pull some attention away from Phelps, and McCoy should throw more in Bayfield’s new offense to keep Kirtland Central from crowding the box.
BHS is coming off a 5-5 season in which the Wolverines lost in the first round of the playoffs after finishing third in the Class 2A Western Slope-South League.
As for the Broncos, they’ll break in a new quarterback after leading passer Jacob Belin graduated last year.
Kirtland Central, which finished 5-6 last season and lost in the first round of New Mexico’s Class 4A playoffs, also will feature new faces at running back and wide receiver after an exodus of 24 seniors.
But the Broncos have some talented young players who won their eighth grade championship just a few years ago.
“They have the good years and bad years, I don’t know what this one is,” said BHS senior linebacker Kyle Killough, son of Kevin and Lana Killough. “I hope it turns out like last year.”
Opening the season in a hostile environment doesn’t faze BHS head coach Gary Heide.
He’s also not one to buy into the “familiarity breeds contempt” cliche.
“We’ve got to be prepared for every environment we go into. This is a great challenge for us,” Heide said. “It’s our first game on the schedule, whoever it was. Two years ago they beat us. Three years ago it was a close game. Last year we were fortunate enough to get a lot of breaks. I’m expecting a real tough game. That’s a great game to open with.”
Who: No. 8 Bayfield at Kirtland Central
What: high school football
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Kirtland Central High School, Kirtland, New Mexico
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