Fri Nov 20th, 2020
Special to the Drum
Tags: Clint Talamante-Benavidez, Del Norte, Dylan Labarth, Fletcher Madrid, Gabe Tucson, Ignacio Bobcats, Ignacio High School Bobcats, Isaac Peerman, Jace Carmenoros, Jeremy Roderick, Joe Garcia, John Riepel, Josh Gonzales, Lawrence Toledo, Malachi Gallegos, Marques Quintana, Monte Vista, Richie Madrid, Shawn Campbell, Trajan Garcia, Tyler Gallegos
Tucson fires 5 TD in 40-0 home victory
During four years with Ignacio Football, Dylan Labarthe had seen plenty of ups and downs, quirks and oddities.
He hadn’t seen every sort of strange, but he’d certainly seen plenty.
So when an inadvertent whistle along the home sideline halted him roughly ten yards from a sure touchdown reception late in the third quarter during the Bobcats’ 2020 finale, the senior wide receiver, clearly confused by the stoppage and sporting an expression requesting explanation, at least knew to keep any frustration simmering beneath a boil.
Ultimately, the incident – an apparent reflex action linked to the official’s flagging of lineman Jeremy Roderick for a borderline block helping spring Labarthe into space – could be humorously chalked up to it occurring on Friday the 13th, with the ’Cats helpless to reverse time.
Wasting no more of it than needed to regroup as the ball was even repositioned eight yards behind the initial line of scrimmage – the Del Norte 22 – before replaying first down, Ignacio’s offense made sure that those six points would be secured.
And while junior Gabe Tucson’s throw to Labarthe went right, his subsequent dart to Shawn Campbell hit the junior in stride down IHS Field’s left-middle, allowing Campbell to cruise into the end zone for what ended up being the team’s final score of its coronavirus-abbreviated campaign.
“In all honesty, I felt bad for Dylan because it got called back,” said Campbell, whose ensuing point-after kick increased Ignacio’s lead to 40-0 with 1:47 left in the third. “I don’t know what it was – a faulty whistle or something – but it turned out that we scored, and I think everybody was happy with that.”
“As our last game as seniors and everything, you know … I was sad but happy at the same time because I wanted to get this done – end the season on a win,” Labarthe said. “And I’m proud with how our team played; I’m glad we all stuck together, and I’m glad with the outcome.”
Powered by senior running back Isaac Peerman, shouldering most of the visitors’ offensive load after starting quarterback Malachi Gallegos was injured by a second-quarter sack courtesy Bobcat senior Joe Garcia and a couple others, the Tigers did their very best to spoil the shutout by mounting the contest’s longest drive.
Consuming at least 10 minutes, 30 seconds of the 12-minute final frame, DNHS overcame a 9-yard Fletcher Madrid loss from the Tiger 30 on first down and, aided by two Jace Pacheco-to-Logan Cestone connections covering 31 and 19 yards, later reached the Ignacio 13 via a 5-yard Peerman carry.
But a 15-yard personal foul after the play pushed Del Norte back to the 28, and Pacheco’s first-down completion to junior Brennan Velasquez lost six more yards back to the 34. Pacheco was then sacked back at the 41, but Peerman then plowed through for 17 yards on third down, giving DNHS one last hope of posting points.
“I think they were really counting on it,” Garcia said, acknowledging Peerman’s prowess. “He was very focused and knew what he wanted to do. He just did his job, and for a couple plays did it better than we did ours.”
With head coach Richie Madrid electing to try moving the chains rather than attempt a long field goal, there was no doubting the workhorse would again get the call … and the Bobcats (3-2, 3-2 1A Southern Peaks) were ready, stacking Peerman up for just one yard and forcing a third turnover-on-downs.
IHS takeaways had ended five earlier Tiger series, making Tucson’s job under center much easier and his game-ending kneel-down even more memorable as Ignacio finished the unique fall — booking the program’s first winning record since 2013.
“I think we just had to change the way we looked at the game, you know? Like, at Monte Vista we went in there and I can tell you, our team ‘looked’ like we were going to lose,” admitted Campbell, referring to the previous Friday’s 56-7 road loss to the Pirates. “Nobody had fire, I guess. And then in this game, with it being Homecoming, everybody wanted to push and make something happen for our seniors. And we did that.”
“Everybody was just way more upbeat,” agreed senior Lawrence Toledo. “It started in the locker room; we got our new jerseys, and everybody was just really hyped.”
“To me it’s kind of a little bit sad, being my last game ever,” he continued. “But it feels good going out with a win, and just to be able to say we had a positive record – never something we’d had before.”
Tucson unofficially finished with 260 yards on 15-of-23 passing, and totaled five touchdowns – a 19-yarder to Labarthe, a 64-yarder to sophomore John Riepel, a 9-yarder to Toledo, and strikes of 36 and 30 to Campbell – against zero interceptions.
Not as heavily relied upon to set up the air raid, Garcia – named Homecoming King at halftime, which the ’Cats entered with a 26-0 lead – still gained 50 yards on 13 carries and got the scoring started with his seventh rushing TD this season.
“It’s a blessing; it was all I’d ever wanted to do as a senior,” he said. “Watching other [past] seniors go … that just sucked, and I never knew what it felt like to be in their shoes. It’s a crazy feeling, but I’ve got to thank God.”
The 4-yard tote, with 3:37 left in the first quarter, came three plays after he’d picked off Gallegos on a hurried throw meant to avoid a sack by IHS senior Clint Talamante-Benavidez. The harmless lob came down with Garcia centered between teammates Kyle Rima, Campbell and Riepel, and his return netted 26 yards down to the Del Norte 9.
Campbell’s first PAT gave Ignacio the all-important 7-0 upper hand, and two Tiger offensive plays later, Bobcat freshman Trajan Garcia recovered a fumble at the DN 38 with 2:37 left. Tucson then hit Labarthe for 19 yards on first down, the other 19 on second, and Campbell was again true with the extra point for a sudden 14-0 lead with 2:21 to go.
Following Gallegos’ unfortunate departure, Tiger Marques Quintana punted down to the Ignacio 18 with 10:04 left in the second quarter. But Joe Garcia broke through for 18 yards on first down, and after throwing incomplete, Tucson then launched a bomb to Riepel for a 20-0 advantage.
Campbell’s point-after kick missed, but the ’Cats would quickly go back to work following a Jace Carmenoros fumble recovery at the DN 4 just 54 seconds later. A false-start penalty bumped the Bobcats back to the 9, but Tucson successfully targeted Toledo for another swift six points with 8:27 still left until intermission.
“Emotionally, it felt good … but at the same time you just want to break down in tears at the end of it,” Toledo said. “It’s just amazing to see how much talent our team really has. Being able to run the ball, throw the ball … do whatever we want.”
“We knew we had the advantage over them, height-wise and speed-wise. So, we wanted to take good advantage,” said Labarthe. “And they played back really far, so we just capitalized on that. I’m happy with all our wide receivers.”
Garcia’s two-point conversion carry failed, but the Bobcats were unwilling to let Del Norte (1-4, 1-3 SPC) get anything going offensively; after setting up shop at their own 35 following Campbell’s out-of-bounds kickoff, the Tigers again lost control of the ball and Talamante-Benavidez pounced on it at the 30 with 8:23 still remaining.
Ignacio’s ensuing possession ended with DNHS freshman Josh Gonzales recovering a third-down fumble, but Pacheco was promptly sacked by, ironically, Tucson, and the Tigers’ series would end with Quintana taking an 11-yard loss after bobbling the snap on an intended punt.
After forcing a Bobcat turnover-on-downs at the Del Norte 29, Pacheco managed to drive the Tigers all the way to the IHS 18 before Carmenoros came up with another recovered fumble back at the 22 with only 38 ticks left – allowing the ’Cats to go into the break ahead by a controlling four scores.
Bent on at least not being bageled, DNHS began the third quarter in fine fashion, with Peerman powering 37 yards on second down and reaching the IHS 28. A six-yard Madrid gain reached the 13 four plays later, but the surge rapidly went into reverse; Madrid was dropped for a 15-yard loss back to the 28, and Peerman then took a minus-9 hit as the Tigers lost possession on downs at the Ignacio 37 with 7:46 left.
Helped by an 18-yard Tucson-to-Toledo completion down to the DN 36, the Bobcats then were able to complete a 7-play, 63-yard drive in just 2:13, with Tucson finding Campbell for a 36-yard TD along the Tiger sideline. Campbell’s PAT was good, and Ignacio’s lead grew to 33-0 with 5:33 remaining.
“We wanted to attack them … just pound them and pound them with the running game,” said Campbell. “That’s what we wanted to do when we came in, but then we just found it in the passing game.”
To that extent, Riepel finished with a team-best 93 yards on three receptions, while Toledo snared six throws for 63.
“Me, personally, just to play … . I mean, the guys were just dying to play and be able to do something!” Campbell (4-66 receiving) continued, asked what not only the game but the entire season meant to the squad. “So, for us to do that, and have a winning season with [the pandemic situation], it’s pretty amazing. It means everything to these guys.”
“It means everything,” agreed Labarthe (2-38 rec.). “I know I’d heard about Bayfield and [other teams] shutting down and I was like, ‘I hope to God it doesn’t happen to us!’ I’m just glad we got to finish the season – and that I got to be part of … the first winning season in seven, eight years.”
“Just looking around and seeing Lawrence, Joe, Clint, and all of them for the last time suited up like that … . It was pretty emotional, but happy at the same time,” he added, speaking on his Senior Night experience overall. “I’m glad I got to go out with them like I did.”
In defeat, Peerman unofficially finished with 123 yards on 28 carries, but Madrid was held below 20 yards and Pacheco unofficially minus-29 on six tries; he unofficially totaled 38 yards aerially on 4-of-6 passing. Cestone’s two catches netted 50 yards, but Velasquez’s two netted only three yards and Tyler Gallegos’ lone grab went for minus-6.
And while IHS’ season came to an end, DNHS’ was to survive one more week.
Benefiting from CHSAA’s six-plus-one – meaning six regular-season games, plus an extra if the team doesn’t make the postseason – scheduling option this fall, the Tigers will close up shop Friday, Nov. 20, at home versus late add Gunnison, with the non-conference Cowboys (3-3, 3-2 1A Western Slope) playing out GHS’ first varsity slate since 2017.
The scaled-down State Playoffs are set to begin Nov. 20-21, with the 1A State Championship battle scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, at CSU-Pueblo’s Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl.