Ignacio head coach ‘Ponch’ Garcia appears somewhat amused while fielding a question from manager Quincy Witt prior to the Bobcats’ Aug. 26 season-opener at Ellicott, east of Colorado Springs.
Ignacio’s Lawrence Valdez (1) was tough to tackle on kickoff returns – unless by tactics like those employed by Ellicott junior Deonte Cunningham (80) – during the Bobcats’ Aug. 26 season-opener on the road.
Ignacio’s Nathan Herrera (23) gets some well-deserved recognition after recovering an onside kick following IHS’ first score in season-opening action Aug. 26 at Ellicott. At the time, early in the second quarter, the Bobcats trailed by just a 6-3 margin.
Ignacio quarterback Zach Weinreich (11) and receiver Kruz Pardo (6) listen to head coach ‘Ponch’ Garcia analyze their second-quarter scoring connection during the Aug. 26 season-opener at Ellicott.
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
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T’hawks fly away from Cats, 52-15

Second-quarter frenzy dooms IHS

Two passing touchdowns, two rushing TD’s, two two-point conversions (one kept, one thrown) – it certainly seemed Matthew Davidson wanted a season-opening win twice as much as the next man.

But with visiting Ignacio doggedly staying close through a quarter and a half, despite commonplace Zero Week mistakes and unexpectedly losing a lineman to a brawl 4:58 before halftime, Davidson did his most doubling damage defensively, allowing the Ellicott Thunderhawks to rapidly fly into intermission comfortably ahead – and ultimately to a 52-15 victory Friday, Aug. 26.

“It was good,” sophomore receiver/return specialist Lawrence Valdez said of the humbling. “Now we know what we need to work on. We’re going to go harder in practice and try to do better next week!”

“We were way better in practices,” said senior Timmy Plehinger. “We weren’t doing our jobs, but we tried our hardest. We played with heart.”

And after junior Cesar Corona, caught up with EHS senior Jake McAllister in a one-on-one – before allies of each swiftly swarmed, threatening an all-out rumble – after ’Hawk senior Jaylen Hayes carried in a seven-yard TD to the opposite side of the field, joined injured senior line-mate Mark Kempinski on the Bobcat bench, the hosts couldn’t help be surprised at how much heart showed through.

Once the fracas was broken up, IHS junior Marcus Chapman intercepted Davidson’s attempted two-point toss, and Valdez then took the ensuing kickoff all the way back to the Ellicott 24. Senior quarterback Zach Weinreich (unofficially 12-of-27 for 98 yards, 3 INT) was dropped for a three-yard loss on first down but flicked a 27-yard TD to junior Kruz Pardo on second.

Having put Ignacio’s first three points up with a 24-yard field goal four ticks into the second quarter, senior Lorenzo Pena’s point-after try fell short, but with 3:54 still left before the long pause and the Cats only trailing 18-9, the ’Hawks knew something drastic had to be done to subdue the enemy.

And as Weinreich’s counterpart, Davidson knew he’d have to lead by example.

“We came out and I was like, ‘Look, guys,’” junior Chiante Stewart said, Davidson’s other top backfield weapon, “‘now we’ve … got to apologize to the other team, and we’ve got to play our game, get this W!’ There was a lot of emotions, a lot of stuff going on, but there was no need for that fight.”

Following a decent runback of IHS’ kickoff, Davidson (unofficial 13-107 rushing) gained nine yards on first down and Hayes 22 on second. Hayes (13-134) then blasted through on the third snap for a 28-yard TD, capping a drive, which had consumed all of 25 seconds.

Plehinger, however, blocked Cesar Silva’s point-after kick for an instant morale boost … which took a serious hit when Davidson picked off Weinreich’s first-down throw and hustled the takeaway back to the Bobcat 10 – 28 yards behind where the brief Ignacio possession had started.

Two Stewart carries and just 55 seconds later, Ellicott (1-0, 0-0 1A Santa Fe) went up 30-9 but Plehinger again stormed through to bat down Silva’s PAT.

“We were tired of getting run over,” he said. “And we just wanted to make a point that we can do it, that we can keep up with them. And that’s what we did.”

Three IHS plays later, however, the Thunderhawks appeared to steal momentum back when Davidson snared a Johnny-on-the-spot interception of a ball slipping out of Pardo’s apparent grip. Davidson’s return set EHS up at the Ignacio 13 with 1:00 left before halftime, and he found Stewart (8-50 rushing, 5-93 receiving) for a 10-yard TD just 18.1 ticks later, then ran in the conversion to boot.

“Most of the time our … line struggles the first game – our snaps are not on point – but today I can honestly say our snaps were good, our blocking was good,” said Stewart. “We have a freshman, Logan (D’Amour), and when that fight happened he had to be thrown in the fire – because we only have eight linemen! And he…stepped up, was creating holes…doing his best!”

The Bobcats went three-and-out on their first two series in the third quarter, but after the ’Hawks finished a three-play, 23-yard drive with an 8-yard Davidson keeper (plus a conversion throw to senior Brody Pagan), IHS went hurry-up offensively and found immediate success.

Starting at his own 35, Weinreich nailed five consecutive passes and marched the ’Cats to the EHS 18 before the impressive drive stalled out on downs at the 11. Consuming the closing 2:30 of the third and opening 3:38 of the fourth quarter, Ellicott responded with a 12-play, 89-yard grinder capped by a 1-yard Stewart plunge. Fighting to the end, however, Bobcat sophomore Clay Seibel broke up the attempted two-point pass to give IHS a spark for what would be its final possession.

With soph Isiah Jacket under center, the ’Cats went on a 5-play, 55-yard series finished by a 20-yard Ethan Appenzeller carry and Jacket’s 21-yard scoring keeper with only 2:04 left on the running clock.

Unofficially, Pardo caught three balls for 46 yards to lead Ignacio’s receivers, while Jacket’s 1-21, Pena’s 4-16 and Appenzeller’s 3-9 figures led in rushing.

“We’ll definitely bounce back,” said Plehinger. “We’ll be back next week.”

“Yeah, there’s plenty to work on. You can always get better,” Stewart said, alluding to his team’s quirks and foibles. “But that takes practice – you come out and practice, give 130 percent, you know?”

Up next in week one, Ignacio (0-1, 0-0 1A Southern Peaks) will travel to 3A Crownpoint, N.M., for a 7=p.m. kickoff on Friday, Sept. 2, and after a week two bye, visit 2A Montezuma-Cortez on the September 16 before hosting 2A Pagosa Springs on the September 23.

CHS will welcome the Cats having gained early momentum via a 46-20 defeat of 4A Fort Wingate (N.M.) Wingate on the road.


Ignacio happened to be the only SPC squad active in zero week, meaning the other five teams debut their 2016 varsities in week one, and all on September 2 against non-conference opposition from around the statewide classification.

Reigning conference champs Monte Vista open at Cedaredge, while runners-up La Jara Centauri head out to Rye. Walsenburg John Mall hosts Ordway Crowley County, Center travels to Paonia, and Dolores welcomes Hotchkiss.


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