Scoring defense improved somewhat over the previous week’s Homecoming debacle.
And offensively on Friday, Oct. 9, IHS head coach Ponch Garcia not only surprised visiting Monte Vista but also the officiating crew with the same appearance and swift pace of the Bobcats’ strange “Polecat” package which earlier this fall had unexpectedly put non-conference powerhouse Paonia on tilt.
To locals in IHS Field’s bleachers who’d been unable to travel up to Delta County, the swinging gate-style setup may not have appeared to be the ideal way to attack the No. 5-ranked [CHSAANow.com Class 1A poll, 10/5] Pirates. But like those who’d witnessed the Eagles’ struggles with slowing the scheme’s quick runs and quicker passes out of its lopsided look, they had to applaud when the visitors regularly receded towards their own goal line.
But as during Homecoming Week versus Walsenburg John Mall, the Cats were unfortunately unable to cross it and MVHS followed the Panthers’ 60-0 rout by blanking Ignacio on its Senior Appreciation Night, 41-zero.
But despite recording five takeaways – four after halftime, when Monte Vista’s slow-cooked lead, 20-0, was still approachable – and forcing IHS junior Lorenzo Pena to punt the pigskin away as many times, the Pirates (5-1, 2-0 1A Southern Peaks) never looked their usual collective self until senior Presley Garcia got the scoring underway with a two-yard run, capping an 11-play, 64-yard surge with only 1:04 left in the first quarter.
Pena punted after the Bobcats (0-6, 0-2) went three-and-out, but MVHS was in business at the IHS 39-yard line with 11:23 left in the second. Five run plays and just 2:08 later, senior Michael Valdez bulled into the end zone from five yards and freshman Parker Randolph tacked on the first of five point-after kicks to up the ante to 13-0.
Unshaken, Ignacio went back to work and came as close to a touchdown as the Monte Vista 13 on a fourth-down, 16-yard throw from senior quarterback Zach Weinreich (who’d found junior Stocker Robbins for 47 earlier in the drive) to classmate Austin McCaw. But the connection didn’t move the sideline chains, and the Pirates retook possession with 6:25 left before intermission.
Including one partially blocked by sophomore Marcus Chapman, the Cats forced two MVHS punts before heading to the locker room, but the guests stepped up their pressure with a 30-yard TD keeper by QB/P Keshaun Duran 25 seconds after Weinreich was intercepted at the MV 48 with only 0:34 remaining.
Knowing his side would be receiving the third-quarter kickoff, Duran mimicked the pot-stirring motion – a silent “something’s cooking, uh-oh” to a foe – frequently seen in NBA star James Harden’s celebrations as he trotted back to the Pirates’ bench, and Monte Vista put the game out of reach after beginning the second half at their 38.
And did so exactly as they’d posted the night’s first points – with a lengthy 12-play, 62-yard march (sustained by a 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty, but nearly sunk by two offensive infractions), sapping a demoralizing 6:26 off the clock, and producing a 14-yard Presley Garcia TD carry and Randolph PAT.
Pena’s outstanding kickoff return subsequently positioned the Bobcats at the MV 33 with 5:18 left in the quarter, but six ticks later the Pirates’ offense was back in gear after Valdez picked off Weinreich and ran it back to the MV 45, protecting what was then a four-score advantage.
Duran soon increased the lead to a decisive six scores – enacting the mercy-rule running clock – with a nine-yard return of a Pena fumble (Randolph booted the extra point) with an insulting 0:01.1 still left in the third.
Weinreich unofficially finished 7-of-19 passing for 122 yards in the loss to Monte Vista, with Robbins’ 47 yards the individual receiving high. Juanito Medina caught two balls for 38 yards and McCaw two for 19. Pena gained 40 yards rushing on just six attempts, but senior Tyler Beebe’s 3-0 and Weinreich’s 9-(minus-2) figures were as close to additional ground support as could be mustered.
Up next, IHS’ regular season ends with three consecutive road games, starting Oct. 16 in La Jara against Centauri (3-3, 2-0) and continuing 10/23 at Center and 10/30 at Dolores.