Last year’s football schedule wasn’t entirely friendly to Ignacio High School.
Despite the anticipation and long-awaited unveiling of a new, artificial surface and a slate somewhat conducive to capitalize on the upgrade, the Bobcats couldn’t put it all together in finishing 1-8 overall and a fifth-place 1-4 in the six-team 1A Southern Peaks Conference.
IHS’ 2015 itinerary certainly won’t do the Cats any favors while they retool … especially down the stretch.
A trip out to La Jara on Oct. 16 (kickoff 7:00 p.m.) to face defending SPC champs Centauri precedes a 10/23 return to the San Luis Valley to meet conference dark horse Center, as well as the drive to Dolores Sept. 30 for a regular-season finale against the arch-nemesis Bears – who somehow found 13 points enough to blank the Cats in Ignacio and close the book on a frigid 2014.
Neither DHS (4-5, 2-3 SPC in ’14) nor CHS (5-4, 3-2) made the 1A State Playoffs, but the Falcons (7-4, 5-0) picked up an opening Round-of-16 win at home by holding perennial power Limon to just two points. Loveland Resurrection Christian, however, curbed that enthusiasm in the quarterfinals with a neutral-ground win up at Fort Collins Fossil Ridge H.S.
First up for IHS in helping kick off the 95th year of CHSAA-sanctioned scholastic sports will be an August 28h debut (7 p.m. start) at IHS Field versus non-onference Hotchkiss. The Bulldogs went 4-6 overall last fall, but qualified for the Playoffs, where they then fell at Buena Vista in the first round. BVHS went on to reach runner-up status, losing in the State Championship to Paonia, whom Ignacio will face on Sept. 11 at the intimate Paonia Town Park.
Also representing the Western Slope Conference, the Eagles defeated the Demons 21-7 in the grand finale and outscored their Playoffs opponents by an aggregate 137-22 margin to cap a perfect 13-0 campaign.
The Cats then make a much shorter trip to 2A Pagosa Springs on 9/18 for a winnable test against the Pirates, coming off a 3-6 result in which they were held to seven points or fewer in five outings.
IHS’ lone victim in 2014, Walsenburg John Mall, comes to town on Oct. 2, but Ignacio will first have to fight through what should be a difficult Sept. 25 non-conference home clash with 2A Montezuma-Cortez. Despite being the SoPeaks’ smallest school by enrollment and going 0-5 against the loop during its first time as a member, JMHS managed to finish 2-7 overall in ’14.
The Bobcats’ Senior Night home finale is currently set to fall on Oct. 9, though the enemy – Monte Vista – has proven since joining the SPC that it will not be a cupcake. MVHS went 6-4 overall, 4-1 in the SPC before finishing Manny Wasinger’s second season in charge with a 26-21 loss at Rye in the Playoffs’ first round.
Defensively, the Pirates held six of last year’s ten foes to single digits – including Center, IHS, JMHS, and Dolores – before Centauri upended (via a 42-6 rout) the proverbial table on Monte to cop the SPC crown.
Practice officially began Monday, Aug. 17, with the first date for contact and usage of all equipment being Thursday, Aug. 20 But due to the decision to host HHS during “Zero Week,” CHSAA by-laws deny the Cats their two allowable preseason scrimmages between the Aug. 22-27.