Fri Dec 18th, 2020
Special to the Drum
Tags: Alfonso ‘Ponch’ Garcia, Colorado Season C sports, Dylan LaBarthe, First Team All-Southern Peaks Conference, Gabe Tucson, Ignacio High School Bobcats, Jace Carmenoros, Jawadin Corona, Joe Garcia, Lawrence Toledo
Three Bobcats earn First Team honors
Asked following their Senior Night victory over Del Norte what they’d remember 10-15 years into the future about not just a blowout win but the bizarre 2020 football season as a whole, multiple Ignacio seniors’ answers were quite similar.
“We’ve had some amazing coaches that’s been with us since I was a freshman; I wouldn’t want any other coaches than them,” running back/linebacker Joe Garcia said. “The brotherhood we had, and my coaches.”
“The guys on the team and the coaches,” agreed wide receiver/defensive back Lawrence Toledo. “Basically, the guys on the team and how they played together, and the coaches … how they got along so well.”
“Just how much we came together and … stayed together,” WR/DB Dylan Labarthe added. “Didn’t fight, and played our hearts out. All the seniors I played with, I want to remember us as a family … and how much of a good time we had.”
“I thought we just had a great season overall.”
Rewarded recently for their contributions in helping the Bobcats post the program’s first winning season since 2013, Garcia, Toledo and Labarthe were named First Team All-Southern Peaks Conference, along with junior WR/DB/K/P Shawn Campbell.
“We thought we could compete. And that’s the idea, when you have a schedule like that,” head coach Alfonso ‘Ponch’ Garcia said, alluding to IHS’ SPC-only slate and resulting 3-2 overall/conference record, good for third place in the loop behind superpower Centauri and perennial runner-up Monte Vista. “So, I think … that was a plus, really, for us.”
Enduring through the COVID-altered fall season in both cross-country and football, junior quarterback Gabe Tucson was named Second Team All-SPC. “I had a lot more confidence – especially after watching film,” he said, of his first season as the clear-cut starter under center. “I was just comfortable, a lot more, this time.”
Sophomore offensive/defensive lineman Jace Carmenoros was also a Second Team selection, while Honorable Mention All-Conference went to senior OL/DL Jawadin Corona.
“We came into  wanting to do it for all our seniors, and just wanted to finish on a positive note,” said Joe Garcia. “And we did that pretty good!”
Yet again, the SoPeaks’ Coach-of-the-Year Award went to Centauri’s Kyle Forster, while Falcon junior RB/DB Mason Claunch received Offensive Player-of-the-Year. Completing the superlatives’ sweep, junior RB/LB Zach Buhr earned Defensive POY in the wake of CHS’ 4-0 romp through the SPC and 7-1 overall finish – after a 20-17 Class 1A State Playoffs first-round win over Florence (5-1, 3-0 Tri-Peaks), and then a 27-14 home loss to Strasburg – Centauri’s ultimate kryptonite during the last half-decade – in the semifinals.
Also named First Team All-Conference for Centauri were senior QB/DB/K McKay Russell, junior WR/DB Baron Holman, junior WR/DB Byron Shawcroft and junior WR/LB Danny Brady.
SHS (8-1, 5-0 Foothills) then lost 28-0 to Limon (7-0, 3-0 North Central) in the State Championship played Saturday, Dec. 5, inside CSU-Pueblo’s Neta & Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl. Capping their run through a reduced 8-team bracket, the Badgers earned not only a third straight crown but also an 11th straight win since losing 14-12 last Nov. 1 at Holyoke.
(The last time Limon fell in the postseason, coincidentally, was in the 2017 semis when Centauri prevailed 20-12. CHS then lost – in double-overtime, no less – that year’s grand finale to Strasburg, which has now reached the penultimate showdown an amazing five seasons running, with supreme triumphs in 2016 and ‘17.)
Led by junior QB/LB Colton Mellott plus senior RB/LB Cobi Garcia, junior tight end/defensive end Dusty Duran, senior WR/DB Tyrese Otero and junior RB/LB Hunter Pacheco – each tabbed First Team All-SPC – Monte Vista went 5-2 overall, 4-1 SPC, and ended their season defeating non-conference Olathe (2-5, 1-4 Western Slope) 30-18 as part of CHSAA’s special ‘six plus one’ scheduling allowance for Fall 2020 – meaning the Pirates could pick up a bonus seventh ‘regular-season’ contest if they failed to make the Playoffs.
Powered back into both the SoPeaks and 11-man football by First Team-selected seniors Isaac Peerman, Fletcher Madrid and Logan Cestone, DNHS (1-4, 1-3 SPC) did likewise in picking up a late visit from Gunnison, but out of health-safety concerns chose not to face the Cowboys (3-3, 3-2 WSC), completing their first varsity-level campaign since ’17 when GHS went 0-5 in the 2A Intermountain – dominated that season by undefeated and eventual State Champion Bayfield – and 0-9 overall.
Junior QB/DB Wyatt Koskie and junior RB/LB Caleb Montoya represented Dolores (0-5, 0-4 SPC) as First Team All-SPC members, as did Center junior RB/DB Abraham Echauri and senior TE/DL Carlos Almeida despite the Vikings (0-3, 0-2) not getting to visit the Bears in what would likely have been the season finale for both overwhelmed squads.
ADDITIONAL SECOND TEAM ALL-SPC
Centauri – senior WR/DE Jordan Martin, junior WR/DB Peyton Polzin, senior OL/DL Hunter Berggren; Monte Vista – junior OL/DL Blair Vanderpool, sophomore OL/DE Alejandro Felix; Del Norte – sophomore Ryder Whitehorn, junior Carter Simon; Dolores – senior Joseph Summers, junior Chase Phillpot; Center – sophomore RB/LB Cael Ruggles, junior OL/LB Omar Hernandez.
ADDITIONAL HONORABLE MENTION ALL-SPC
Centauri – junior OL/DL Jownes Archuleta; Monte Vista – senior OL/DL Daniel Vargas; Del Norte – freshman Gage Trujillo; Dolores – freshman Ty Gaddis; Center – sophomore OL/LB Cruz Reyes.
DID YOU KNOW
All seven 2020 State Football Championship clashes were, for the first time in CHSAA-sanctioned gridiron history, contested at the same site in order to limit as much exposure to and spread of COVID-19 as possible.
“Friends of Football and CSU-Pueblo Athletics are very proud and excited to work through the challenges of 2020 for the benefit of student-athletes from 6-man schools to 5A schools,” Pueblo-based Friends of Football president Dan DeRose had said in a CHSAA press release. “The Pueblo community will do all we can to make this a weekend that will never be forgotten.”
DeRose had been Ponch Garcia’s head coach when he suited up for the semipro Pueblo Crusaders, prior to his entering coaching in 1991 as alma mater Fort Lewis College’s receiver’s mentor.
SPRING FOOTBALL UPDATE
Football teams having elected to play in Spring ’21 will also play six regular-season games during the upcoming Season “C,” with crews not making the postseason able to schedule a seventh. Practices can begin on March 4, 2021, with competition to run between the Ides of (both) March and May, when State Championship games will be played again at CSU-Pueblo.