Nearly 80 years after the Chicago Bears’ NFL Championship whitewashing of Washington, setting the league’s record for largest margin of victory (73-0), Ignacio High School unfortunately – and painfully –found out, at the Colorado High School Activities Association level at least, what it was probably like to have come up short that day at Griffith Stadium.
So, if there was ever a time to start with a virtual clean slate in the aftermath of a 73-0 loss at Centauri, this week would certainly have been ideal for the battered-and-bruised Bobcats, with the status of multiple injured players the most pressing concern facing head coach Alfonso “Ponch” Garcia and his coaching staff.
Nobody expects Monte Vista to take it easy on the Bobcats when the teams meet at 7 p.m. Friday at Monte Vista’s Sullivan Field.
Ignacio senior running back Joe Garcia managed to escape Falcon Field relatively unharmed, a definite plus for any sort of bounce-back plans the Bobcats (2-1, 2-1 1A Southern Peaks League) may have in mind for Monte Vista (3-1, 3-0 SPL), which ended October with a 50-8 victory at Dolores last week.
And while Garcia’s presence will mean little change in the run game, its execution will need to be swifter, particularly if linemen Peyton Baker, Jeremy Roderick, Jace Carmenoros, Alrick Hudson, Jawadin Corona and others are still hobbled.
IHS junior quarterback Gabe Tucson could also find himself with a receiving corps also a step slower; junior Shawn Campbell appeared able to persevere through a slight leg issue, but senior Dylan Labarthe was lost to an ankle injury he hoped at the time was nothing more than a nasty sprain.
Requiring not only ice but also crutches, junior Tyler Barnes’ own ankle injury appeared far more serious, and his availability could be questionable at best. Senior Lawrence Toledo, however, managed to survive several crushing tackles, especially on multiple kickoff returns.
Defensively, Ignacio will need more of everything to stop a Monte Vista squad once again reliant upon a solid ground attack. Senior Cobi Garcia, junior Hunter Pacheco and sophomore Khegan Gunter have been Monte’s backfield mainstays and all scored last week at Dolores. Elias Sigala also has emerged as a fourth horse in the stable. Against Dolores, senior Evan Stults enjoyed his best rushing day yet with 64 yards and a score on seven carries.
Junior Colton Mellott (17-of-36, 269 yards, 3 TD, 3interceptions) will likely be calling signals under center, though unlike Pirate QBs of the past, he’s yet to show a knack for running the ball with only a reported 52 yards on 24 carries so far this season. He has been interceptable; all three of his picks came in just 11 attempts against Center as the Pirates still had little difficulty icing the Vikings 40-0.
Senior Tyrese Otero (6-121 receiving) leads MVHS’ wideouts, with Stults and junior Dusty Duran also having shown an ability to get open deep as the Pirates have now outscored their opponents by a 146-48 margin.
MVHS athletic director Greg Jones noted that only two fans per player will be allowed into the venue as a result of Rio Grande County’s new COVID-19 spike, a situation which postponed last Thursday’s clash between Del Norte and Center and which has now done likewise to this Friday’s Centauri at Center contest to also be relisted.
Centauri (4-0, 3-0 SPL), however, has found a replacement game; the Falcons will travel to non-conference Woodland Park (2-2, 1-2 2A West) for a 6 p.m. start, with the hosts coming off a 27-23 loss in Craig at Moffat County. Interestingly, Woodland Park’s first win of 2020 came down in the San Luis Valley; the Panthers pulled out a 21-13 victory at Alamosa back on Oct. 9.
Though Monte Vista has lost just once to date, the means in which vaunted non-conference Colorado Springs Christian prevailed play well to Ignacio’s strengths and could possibly be replicated.
In the Pirates’ season-opener, CSCS senior Joe Dunn pierced Monte’s defense for a reported 221 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown, meaning Joe Garcia could rally from a negative-yardage day at Centauri and approach triple figures.
Lion senior QB Caleb Stockton – the same run/pass threat fans saw at IHS Field in 2019 – threw four TDs and was intercepted once in 15 pass attempts, meaning a recovery could also be in order for Tucson.
IHS will have to look for something of a strong start against Monte vista and hope to prevent the sort of beginning they’d experienced at Centauri and to which Dolores fell victim versus the Pirates; the Bobcats fell behind 37-0 through 12 minutes in La Jara, while the Bears went down 38-0 early to Monte Vista