Cats surrender over 450 yards on Senior Day
Ignacio’s first pass attempt?
Completed by its veteran starter, but off the foot of the intended receiver and up into the hands of surprised lineman Dalton Labarthe for what ended up being a one-yard loss.
Center’s first pass attempt?
A clean strike from a former starter – the present-day incumbent watched from the sidelines, still nursing a broken clavicle – to a standout IHS hoped to mark, for a 35-yard gain … early in the second quarter, with CHS already up by 14 points.
That was kind of how things went in the 2016 finale for the Bobcats last Saturday; even when something went right, others went wrong, and the visiting Vikings afforded them as little time as possible to make amends in ultimately taking the Oct. 29 1A Southern Peaks Conference clash 34-0.
“It was pretty special to me, having all the parents and stuff support us and the coaches,” said senior running back/linebacker Lorenzo Pena, reflecting not so much on the loss but Senior Day and the season as a whole.
“Overall I just thank everyone that helps us with the football program and how it went this year.”
Blessed to suit up almost as many 12th-graders (13) as the opponent brought players (a hand-counted 16), Ignacio struggled with penalties early and ultimately lost momentum when their best series – begun at CHS’ 40 after an un-returnable Nabor Quintana punt netted only ten yards – failed at the enemy’s 1-yard line.
It didn’t surprise the Vikings that the call would be for senior Zach Weinreich to take the snap from junior Natoni Cundiff and try sneaking the ball over the goal line, and blitzing linebacker Sean Cook not only disrupted an already squibbed center-quarterback exchange, but forced it backwards – “… trying to get extra yards to not get safe tied on the next play,” Cook said – and ended up atop the fumble at the 6 with 8:18 left in the third quarter.
Center’s offense failed to immediately capitalize after being set up inside their 10, but with a brutally-balanced attack led by QB Josh Jones, fullback Adrian Bahena, and Quintana at tailback, the guests pushed the ball to the Bobcats’ 21 before relinquishing the rock on downs, having drained a vital 4:56 off the clock.
It was their third of what ended up being four drives of ten plays or more, as the Vikes ran nearly 70 offensive plays in the game while the Cats fell just short of 40.
Three plays later, Center defensive lineman Joseph Sierra threw Weinreich for a three-yard loss and forced IHS head coach Alfonso Garcia to send out the punt team. Fielding Pena’s kick at his own 32, Bahena eluded at least four would-be tacklers and toe-danced briefly within a foot of the hosts’ sideline before zipping away for a demoralizing 68-yard touchdown.
Quintana ran in the two-point conversion, and with 1:35 left in the third CHS’ lead was a comfortable 22-0.
“I’ve just got to keep pounding it – there’s no way to ‘take off’ a play or anything; they really depend on me,” he said. “So I’ve got to go out there and … try my hardest!”
“It really hurts us when we get somebody hurt – we don’t have too many people to sub in!”
Pena, who’d missed a 28-yard field goal with 5:58 left before halftime, punted for a sixth time on the fourth quarter’s first play and Quintana capped the resulting 61-yard surge with a two-yard TD. He’d finish with 155 yards (unofficially) on 24 carries, while Bahena would book an unofficial 149 on 16 and score twice – the latter a 61-yard jaunt with 3:58 remaining, coming three plays after Viking Cosme Cordova intercepted Weinreich at the CHS 22.
A subsequent Armando Ruiz interception allowed Center’s offense to trot out once more and drain the final 2:03, with Jones kneeling twice – losing two yards, but finishing with a solid 89 on 22 carries – to conclude the proceedings, sending the Vikings (6-3, 4-1 SPC) into the postseason for the first time since 2004.
“He’s actually our third-string,” CHS skipper Brandon Selby said of Jones, given the reins after injuries to incumbent Jorge Venzor and his backup. “Played quarterback his freshman year, so we felt comfortable … Wanted him as a receiver as well; the kid’s versatile, can play any position we want, and he’s just stepped in.”
“Tried to get our defense in top shape for this in practice … we studied this team for the past, probably, two weeks? We all knew which guy we had … I don’t know,” said Pena, trying unsuccessfully to explain the outing.
Gaining 76 yards on just 3-of-5 passing, Jones pushed CHS’ total-offense production above 450 yards while the defense limited Weinreich to just 99 yards passing on 8-of-20 work and allowed Ignacio to run for only 32 on 16 combined tries, led by senior Ethan Appenzeller’s 25 on six.
Junior Cole McCaw caught two passes for 53 yards and Pena grabbed three for 32. Senior Stocker Robbins gained 17 yards on two runs during a brief quarterbacking cameo late in the fourth as IHS finished a resurgent fall standing 3-6 overall, 1-4 in conference.
The victory count alone is something Pena and the seniors certainly hope bodes well for the future.
“Hopefully gets ’em amped up enough, everyone in school, to come play football,” he said. “All the boys that weren’t out this year, hopefully they come out next year with a good attitude – looking for a win for Ignacio!”