Until recently, there had been some chatter of a rematch long awaited.
It involved once-mighty Calhan, now only 12-51-1 – including two 0-and-9 campaigns – overall and 5-32-0 in the South Central Conference, with no postseason appearances since the Bulldogs had their day in a 50-14, first-round romp at then-grassy IHS Field … back in 2008.
But in early June CHS, apparently with barely enough individuals pondering playing ironman-style offense and defense in ’16, Athletic Director Derek Burnside informed CHSAA that out of concern for player safety, such a low interest won’t be generating any gridiron dividends for at least a couple years.
The Association’s Ryan Casey reported that Calhan hopes to rebuild a football team – albeit a JV-level one – in 2017, but work won’t be any easier for alumnus/head coach Clint Mitchell (who’d be in his sixth year with the Bulldogs if he chooses to weather the current storm) and his staff either way.
That being said, the Bobcats’ 2016 schedule – as it presently appears – still has some bite to it as IHS and second-year boss Alfonso “Ponch” Garcia have nowhere to go but up after last fall’s 0-9 acclimation process, when personnel numbers were also iffy at times (at Paonia, for example).
As the itinerary posted online at maxpreps.com currently reads, Ignacio will open at home August 26 versus Pueblo’s Dolores Huerta Prep. Staggering through one of the program’s worst seasons ever, DHPH will come into the 7 p.m. contest also left wanting after nine outings, scoring 18 points in ’15 while surrendering 415.
To be fair, Victor Quintana’s Scorpions did have to face eventual Class 1A State Champions Buena Vista and perennially postseason-minded Rye in their Tri-Peaks (four of that conference’s six teams finished 6-4 or better) schedule. Their non-conference slate included trips to 2A Trinidad and 1A Walsenburg John Mall, and ‘home’ games at CSU-Pueblo’s Neta & Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl versus 1A Rocky Ford and – interestingly enough – Calhan, but the Scorps were outscored 170-12 in those four.
Dolores Huerta’s Homecoming was the only contest CHS claimed in finishing 1-8, 0-5 SCC.
IHS’ first road trip is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 16 at 2A Montezuma-Cortez, by which time (a 7 p.m. start) the Panthers should be fairly in sync with one another. Limping to a 2-7 overall mark in 2015, 1-4 in the Western Slope’s Bayfield-dominated South Division, M-CHS will – if its currently-available schedule also is accurate – be playing its fourth game in as many weeks.
Beginning with a rare trip to Moab, Utah, to challenge the 2A Grand County Red Devils (6-5 overall after losing at Coalville North Summit in the quarterfinals of the eight-team UHSAA State Championships) on August 26, Scott Conklin’s crew will also have hosted 4A Farmington (N.M.) Navajo Prep on Sept. 2 and visited 5A Kirtland (N.M.) Central on the 9th.
Respectively, the Eagles qualified for last fall’s NMAA/U.S. Bank Class 3A State Championships despite a 5-5 (3-0 Dist. 1) overall record, but the Broncos’ 5-5 mark and second-place finish in District 1-4A wasn’t enough to reach the postseason.
On Sept. 23 Ignacio will host Pagosa Springs – another team whose 2015 was, in Piratespeak, a shipwreck. Having finished 1-8 last fall and 0-5 in the 2A Western Slope’s South, PSHS will come to town hoping to recreate last year’s lone glory, a 24-6 defeat of the Cats. That, however, came upon Golden Peaks Stadium’s grass; no telling what the Pirates might encounter on synthetic IHS Field.
Southern Peaks Conference play begins Sept. 30 for IHS in a traditionally hostile environment, against a Monte Vista bunch eager to pick up where a loss to Limon in the 1A State Playoffs’ initial Round-of-16 left it off.
The Pirates won the SPC with a 5-0 mark (only La Jara Centauri came within ten points) and finished 8-2 overall under Manny Wasinger, but someone will have to step up and replace graduated run/pass threat Michael Valdez, a Second Team All-1A selection, under center. It could be now-senior Keshaun Duran, an Honorable Mention All-1A pick.
Dolores comes calling next on October 7. Often the Bobcats’ final opponent of recent seasons due to the rivals’ documented distaste for one another, the feisty Bears – which went 3-6 overall last season – defeated Ignacio 34-0 to close out 2015 and notch their only SPC win against four losses.
Invading IHS Field a week later will be Centauri, looking to revisit its 41-0 blanking of the Bobcats. Kyle Forster’s Falcons finished 5-5 overall in 2015, including regular-season losses – in consecutive weeks no less, and by a 101-18 margin – at classification powerhouses Paonia (11-2 overall) and Buena Vista (13-0). A second loss to the State Championship-bound Demons then ousted CHS from the postseason.
IHS makes the long drive east to JMHS on Oct. 21, with John Mall eager to improve upon a 5-4 overall result and 3-2 SoPeaks showing. Ultimately third place behind the circuit’s two supercharged squads, the Panthers’ venture to Ignacio couldn’t have gone any better: A 60-love shutout, avenging their 2014 loss in Walsenburg and leaving the sides an even 1-1 head-to-head since JMHS joined the conference. Now-senior Jason Murphy was named Second Team All-1A last season as a two-way lineman.
Finally, regular-season action wraps up Oct. 28 back in the Pine River Valley, with the Cats welcoming Center for a 7:00 p.m. Senior Night kickoff. The Vikings went 5-4, 2-3 in 2015, including a 36-6 win over IHS upon Viking Field at Center Community Park.
As in any sport, all dates/times are subject to change, and changes will be reported as quickly as possible.