Thu Oct 13th, 2016
Special to the Drum
Tags: 1A Southern Peaks Conference, Dalton Mickey, Ethan Appenzeller, Ignacio Bobcats, Isaiah Jacket, Kruz Pardo, Lawrence Valdez, Logan Fuller, Lorenzo Pena, Marcus Chapman, Ocean Hunter, Stocker Robbins, Timmy Plehinger, Zach Weinreich
Defense, big plays produce 43-point victory
Dalton Labarthe couldn’t help but beam about the fact that Ignacio’s defense finished what it started, forcibly subduing the outsiders daring to invade the red-black-and-white realm.
“Oh it’s awesome,” the senior defensive end said, discussing not only the Oct. 7 game’s very first score – coming via interception return – as well as its ending sequence of senior Dalton Mickey sacking Dolores junior Justin Purkat and junior Marcus Chapman then intercepting Purkat’s last-ditch heave as time expired. “I don’t know how to put it, but it’s awesome!”
“Today’s the greatest day of my life so far,” declared Labarthe. “I mean, first off, being Homecoming King, then just being able to play with my brothers out here … it’s probably the best feeling ever!”
Sending a message to foe and friend alike that their 1A Southern Peaks Conference-opening 42-0 loss at Monte Vista the previous Friday was – in all probability – a freakish fluke occurrence, the Bobcats forced four DHS punts, picked off Purkat three times overall, and not only recovered one fumble but two onside kicks in a 49-6 rout.
“We ran a lot … ran a lot this week!” said senior Timmy Plehinger, recalling the frustration prevalent throughout Ignacio Football after a slew of penalties stopped numerous promising possessions, greatly simplifying MVHS’ task. “We only practiced once this week, so we got that down in our heads.”
“We came into this game just wanting this win, the coaches wanting this win,” junior receiver Kruz Pardo said. “Coach Garcia … he’s like, ‘I’ve never said this word before a game, but let’s go out there and WIN.’”
“We just knew that we were the better team,” said senior quarterback Zach Weinreich. “And if we came in here and played football, we’d win.”
With IHS’ Class of 1976 present and recognized both early in the action and as part of the halftime pageantry, the Cats (3-3, 1-1 SPC) swiftly buoyed their loyalists’ spirits defensively after a game-opening, nine-play offensive series unluckily died on downs at the Dolores 24.
Having forced Forrest Pejsa into his first punt on the Bears’ sixth snap, Plehinger penetrated into Dolores’ backfield three plays into the guests’ second possession, emphatically batted Purkat’s pass backwards, leapt and snagged it at the DHS 15 with only empty turf visible ahead of him.
“I saw my opportunity, and just wanted to take it!” said Plehinger, who also grabbed three of his own QB’s throws for 38 yards. “Wanted to start the game out on a good note, and that’s what we did!”
Senior Lorenzo Pena then booted the first of his seven (in as many attempts) points-after for a 7-0 lead with 4:18 left in the first quarter. And though Dolores struck back with a nine-yard Purkat keeper, capping a penalty-prolonged drive with 10:21 left in the second, their best big play – for the rest of the rumble, as it turned out – had next to no impact, with junior Logan Fuller’s 98-yard kick-return TD oddly nullified by offsetting infractions.
Highlighted by a second-down, 43-yard pass from Weinreich to Pardo, Ignacio drove 80 yards in six plays and just 2:29, with sophomore Isaiah Jacket – briefly spelling Weinreich under center – bulling his way in for a one-yard score.
Senior Ethan Appenzeller then intercepted Purkat (3-of-16, 25 yards) on the Bears’ first-down play from their own 32, and IHS’ offense hurried back out with the ball placed at the DHS 37. Six plays and a mere 1:45 later, Chapman (3-25 receiving) caught a Weinreich toss and took it 14 yards for the team’s third touchdown.
Leading 21-6, the Bobcats rapidly upped the ante when Mickey smothered a surprise onside kick at the Dolores 46. Weinreich then hit Plehinger for 21 yards and Pardo for nine and, carrying the ball himself three times in the next four plays, scored from one yard out with 3:38 still remaining before the extended break.
“We had a rough first half; it could have went so much better,” sophomore Lawrence Valdez said. “And if we work together like this, we know the outcome!”
As if to jam that notion firmly into the Bears’ brains, freshman Ocean Hunter recovered an onside kick beginning the second half. And after that initial series also ended on downs at the DHS 25, and Ignacio’s next possession ended when a surprised Appenzeller lost a fumble after Pena’s first-down, 22-yard dash, the Cats again got clicking when Weinreich connected with Pardo streaking along the visitors’ sideline for a 74-yard TD.
“It was like third-and-long, and Coach was like, ‘Let’s go for it!’ I saw a single safety high, so I knew we’d have at least a one-on-one matchup outside,” Weinreich (14-of-22, 229 yards, 0 INT) explained. “And he’s a great receiver; I just had to throw it up and let him make a play … and he did!”
“I was running my route hard, saw he was throwing it my way,” said Pardo (5-138 receiving). “I mean, it’s not every play where he just throws it at me so every time he throws to me I’ve got to come down with it.”
“It just gave us full momentum on our side,” he continued. “And I just wanted to get our team out there – our defense – and let ’em do their job: Get our offense back out there, let us work and let us score!”
And with Ignacio leading 35-6 with 3:59 left in the third quarter, the ‘D’ did just that, halting Dolores at the IHS 44 after only four downs and 1:50 of clock. Valdez then promptly bolted 53 yards to the DHS 3, and Weinreich then punched in the Bobcats’ sixth TD with 1:48 still left.
“If we get a toss or a dive we hit the hole as soon as we can,” said Valdez, who’d end the scoring with a two-yard run – finishing an eight-play, 34-yard push set up by senior Stocker Robbins’ recovery of a Skieler Grooms fumble – and 3:26 left in the fourth.
“The game plan was just to work as a team, as a family,” Plehinger said, “and do like we’ve been doing.”
But for Homecoming Week 2016, do so much, much better.
“Like our coach said do our jobs and we’ll be there!” said Labarthe.
“The first [Homecoming win] on the new field it doesn’t get any better than that,” summarized Weinreich, whose legs (11-53 rushing) effectively complemented his arm. “It was just a great day.”
Up next, the Bobcats will host La Jara Centauri on Saturday, Oct. 15, at 1 p.m. The Falcons (3-3, 1-1) will come to town just over a week removed from an unusual 8-6 win at Monte Vista (2-4, 1-1) in a rematch of what’s typically been the conference championship-deciding battle.
Ignacio then makes the long trip to Walsenburg to meet John Mall on Friday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m., and then closes out the regular season welcoming Center for a 1 p.m. kickoff on the 29th.
“We’re trying to win next week,” Valdez (2-21 receiving, 5-77 rushing), “against John Mall – who beat these guys nineteen to zero – and capitalize for the rest of the season!”