Fri Oct 26th, 2018
Special to the Drum
Tags: 1A Southern Peaks Conference, Aaron Mercier, Alfonso ‘Ponch’ Garcia, Bears, Bobcats, Cesar Pedregon, Clay Campbell, Damien Escalera, Dustin Sanchez, Homecoming Week, ignacio high school, Landen Thompson, Lawrence Toledo, Levi Fuller, Lucas Roderick, Mike Archuleta, Monte Vista, Sean Campbell, Wyatt Koskie
Bobcat seniors go out with super shutout
Known to have an affinity for boxing, when Mike Archuleta’s Senior Night pre-game comments were read, he not only thanked his parents but noted his father had instilled in him a belief (informally summarized here) that no matter what happens – inside a ring or out – there’s always another round.
But with Dolores in town, Archuleta and fellow Ignacio seniors Dustin Sanchez and Lucas Roderick were seeking to end the 1A Southern Peaks Conference football rumble early.
“Tell you what … all week this was the talk (about DHS),” said head coach Alfonso ‘Ponch’ Garcia. “We were like, ‘Let’s help the seniors to go out with success’ because, you know, they’ve stuck with us for four years. They’ve been awesome.”
The proverbial ‘tale of the tape’ even showed that the Oct. 19 clash – which also capped off IHS’ Homecoming Week 2018 – would more or less be a fair fight, though the Bears’ roster showed just one senior.
“We knew it was going to be evenly-matched; this is the first time we’ve played somebody with 13 players, and we had 13 players!” Archuleta said. “So we knew what to expect, and we just had to execute our game plan: Get the ball running. If we establish our running game, normally we’ll win.”
“We’ve run the same thing all year,” said Sanchez, “and Dolores knew what to expect, but we just did it better than they could defend.”
His availability questionable after taking a cage-rattling slam a week earlier at Monte Vista, resulting in his precautionary removal, Sanchez followed the blocking of Roderick, Archuleta and others for 194 yards and two touchdowns on just 23 carries, with his second score a 38-yard burst along the Bears’ sideline with just 3:38 left in a 31-0 conquest.
“That hurt, I’m not going to lie,” Sanchez grinned afterwards. “Diving for the pylon … that was all I had, every last bit. It hurt but, you know, I just had to give it my all – one last shot – and end on a high note. I’m glad we all got this win right here.”
“We had to show we’re the superior side of this,” stated Roderick, “and show them that they’re in our hometown.”
And if the seniors somehow didn’t accomplish that goal, the Bobcat juniors were definitely up for the challenge. Cesar Pedregon was a menace defensively, and sacked Dolores quarterback Wyatt Koskie twice within the visitors’ final four plays – after DHS threatened to avoid being shut out with Koskie heaving a 35-yard completion, reaching the Ignacio 25, to fellow freshman Landen Thompson.
But one ’Cat deserving of ending the game holding the ball was junior QB Ian Weinreich, who did exactly that with one kneel-down out of ‘victory formation,’ after Pedregon dropped Koskie for a five-yard loss with 11.3 seconds remaining.
“I’m not going to lie to you,” said Garcia. “He had a hundred-and-one-degree temperature before game time. So we put ice on him, cooled him down, and … what a game! For being that sick!”
Weinreich would finish 6-of-9 passing during the first half, 6-of-13 for the game, and gained 113 yards with two aerial scores, including a devastating 50-yard bomb – finishing a 10-play, 99-yard drive consuming 4:23 of clock – to sophomore Lawrence Toledo with 5:06 left in the first quarter.
Archuleta’s point-after kick was good, putting Ignacio up 7-0, and after Dolores went three-and-out, Weinreich found himself covering a blocked punt at the DHS 23 with 3:33 to go. Penalties, however, helped produce a turnover-on-downs and returned the ball to the guests, but when DHS punter Wade Charles had a fourth-down snap sail over his head, IHS’ offense again took over deep in enemy territory.
Weinreich plowed in from one yard out on the second quarter’s first play, and the Bobcats led 13-0. A Dolores fumble, covered by Pedregon and freshman Damien Escalera, later put IHS at the Bears’ 26 with 7:00 left before halftime, and Weinreich promptly hit freshman Sean Campbell for a 26-yard TD on first down.
Freshman Tyler Barnes’ two-point conversion run failed, but with 6:54 still left, there was plenty of time to inflict more damage. Dolores again went three-and-out, Charles punted, and the ’Cats capitalized with a 9-play, 61-yard march ended by a two-yard Sanchez carry with 1:24 remaining.
The Bears would have one last possession before an extended halftime, but electing to try a fourth-down conversion play rather than again punt, Koskie was thrown for an eight-yard loss by junior Clay Campbell – allowing Weinreich to end the half taking a knee with IHS leading 25-0.
“We just had to keep that pressure; it seemed like if we gave him time he was able to make stuff happen,” said Archuleta, who would be named Homecoming King. “And every time he made something happen … We knew we had to get into the backfield, get into his head a little bit and scramble him up.”
“Every time we see a big hit, we’ve just got to go for it,” he continued. “Like Coach Garcia says, once you establish that big hit, they ain’t going to want to hit against you any more … And once we established that I think that’s when we started taking the game over.”
“It felt good, because it kept us getting points on the board,” Roderick said. “Kept us motivated and … moving. We had one half of their offensive line doing what they were supposed to, and the other half lacked in size. So we were constantly flipping [defensive assignments], trying to get everybody back there as much as we could.”
All told, the Bobcats forced four turnovers-on-downs and recorded four takeaways – the last an Archuleta fumble recovery, coming one play after Roderick and Pedregon buried Koskie (3-of-14 passing, 51 yards) at the IHS 27 for a five-yard loss, and immediately leading to Sanchez’s punctuating six-point gallop.
“What a performance by them!” exclaimed Garcia. “They worked so hard.”
Toledo finished with 59 yards on two catches, while Sean Campbell’s two grabs gained 35 and Barnes’ two gaining 19. Sophomore Aaron Mercier and freshman Levi Fuller combined to unofficially gain nearly 100 yards (most after halftime) out of the Bears’ backfield, but Dolores’ total was drastically reduced by Koskie finishing with minus-42 on eight totes.
“I think everything played out just as we wanted it to,” Archuleta declared.
With only a 10/26 visit from Center left on their schedule, DHS dropped to 2-6, 0-3 SPC, while Ignacio improved to 3-5, 1-2 prior to a difficult, season-ending [see related story] decision.
Ending two Bobcat series with touchdowns, Sanchez confidently quashed any doubts of his readiness. His first score completed a drive in which he hauled the ball seven times, and his exciting second ended a 6-play, 67-yard push during which he rushed five times.
“I mean, I call him ‘Dirty’ for a reason,” joked Garcia. “He’s just worked so hard … and it showed today.”