IGNACIO – Intensity, energy and trust will be the bricks Ignacio High School builds its 2015 football season with.
Former head coach Lupe Huerta is out after eight seasons. Enter Alfonso “Ponch” Garcia, a Durango High School and Fort Lewis College legend taking his first crack at coaching 11-man high school football in Colorado.
“We are breathing a lot of fire with these kids,” Garcia said. “It’s a different style of football.”
Huerta favored a spread offense, which worked with graduated quarterback Adison Jones and an impressive stable of receivers.
Garcia wants to bring the Bobcats back to football’s roots and run the veer offense, which features a heavy dose of ground and pound.
Who exactly will be carrying the ball still needs some sorting out.
Ignacio’s three leading rushers from last season graduated.
Ethan Appenzeller and Lorenzo “Woody” Peña have been getting looks in practice, but Garcia wouldn’t fully commit to a starter.
“I’m trying to give everyone those opportunities,” Garcia said. “We’re still looking for those running backs.”
The quarterback position is more settled.
IHS will go with senior Zach Weinreich, a lefty who impressed Garcia with his leadership in the summer.
Weinreich received the nod over fellow senior Austin McCaw, who is the last quarterback to throw a pass for the Bobcats other than Jones when he filled in during the 2013 season.
McCaw has switched to the tight end position and embraces his role.
“Coach is putting us in the best spot to help the team,” said McCaw, son of Ed and Kelly McCaw. “Tight end is fun. It’s a big difference, but I like it.”
The line blocking for Weinreich and whoever ends up at running back has impressed the coaching staff.
Freshmen Mikey Archuleta and Justin Sanchez appear ready to start in their first year of varsity football.
“For me, the heart is the line,” Garcia said. “I was the guy that got all the glory in college, in high school and all that, but without the line, we’re no heart. It’s the anchor of the whole thing.”
The Bobcats have embraced Garcia’s attitude and adjustments so far.
“We gotta have that coach that’s going to push you all the time to get the best effort out of you,” said Weinreich, son of Francesca and Ian Weinreich.
Currently, there are 32 athletes out for IHS football, but Garcia hopes to add 10 more between school starting Monday and Ignacio’s season opener Friday.
Notable absences included senior wide receiver Wyatt Hayes and senior tight end Nick Herrera.
Hayes has verbally committed to play basketball at Fort Lewis College next year.
“We could definitely use a little more skill players,” McCaw said. “They’d help us, but we’ll deal with what we have.”
The Bobcats will open the 2015 season Friday against Hotchkiss, a team that beat them 32-14 last season and qualified for the Class 1A playoffs.
Then Ignacio’s schedule turns brutal with a trip to two-time defending Class 1A state champion Paonia followed by games against Class 2A Pagosa Springs and Montezuma-Cortez.
Southern Peaks League play will begin Oct. 2 with John Mall visiting Ignacio, and the Bobcats play Monte Vista at home the next week for senior night.
The Bobcats then close the season with three road games at Centauri, Center and Dolores to end October.
“I inherited them. Next year we’re gonna change the schedule,” Garcia said. “We’re going to change it to our level where we’re at. If we make the progress that I want, maybe we’ll compete to that level.”
The Bobcats aren’t fazed by the daunting slate, though.
“We’re hoping we’re going to be a good team. We’re hoping we’re not going to get blown out. We’re hoping every game is a competitive game,” Weinreich said. “Our goal is to win the state championship, that’s our goal, first and foremost. We’re hoping to be a competitive team this year. Gotta execute, gotta be smart, gotta outwork the other team. We can never quit.”
Bobcats’ 2015 football schedule
x-denotes homecoming game
Aug. 28 – Hotchkiss at Ignacio, 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 – Ignacio at Paonia, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18 – Ignacio at Pagosa Springs, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 – Montezuma-Cortez at Ignacio, 7 p.m.
x-Oct. 2 – John Mall at Ignacio, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9 – Monte Vista at Ignacio, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16 – Ignacio at Centauri, 7 p.m.
Oct. 23 – Ignacio at Center, 7 p.m.
Oct. 30 – Ignacio at Dolores, 7 p.m.