Fri Aug 13th, 2021
Special to the Drum
Tags: 2A Bayfield and 1A Buena Vista, 2A Laguna Acoma, 2A Western Slope, 3-2 1A Southern Peaks in Fall ’20), Bobcats Football, Centauri, Eric Bollock’s, Formal CHSAA-sanctioned practice, IHS (3-2, JV-grade squad, Matt Phelan’s team, mothball varsity football, Roaring Fork, Roaring Fork Valley and Garfield County, SPC powers Monte, Spring 2021 State Championship, well-traveled Dave Close
IHS also to host SPC powers Monte, Centauri
Following a disastrous 2017 in which then-skipper Matt Phelan’s team—which surrendered 60 or more points four times and never fewer than 41—went 0-9 overall and 0-5 in the 2A Western Slope, Roaring Fork elected to mothball varsity football.
With faint interest preventing the program in Carbondale from flat-lining altogether, an 11th-hour players’ vote kept the Rams on life support as a JV-grade squad at the eight-man level, with well-traveled Dave Close – previously of RFHS fame and later stops at 2A Bayfield and 1A Buena Vista, amongst others – brought in from eight-man force Norwood to oversee the survival.
And not even COVID-19’s awful timing would put Fork under once and for all.
With all schools in the Roaring Fork Valley and Garfield County choosing to wait until Spring 2021 to churn out something of a pandemic-delayed 2020 season, RFHS returned to 11-man life and will be Ignacio’s first gridiron foe this fall, with kickoff time set for 2 p.m. Saturday, August 28.
Now representing the 1A Western Slope, skipper Eric Bollock’s bunch expectedly struggled this spring as overmatched members of the COVID-cobbled ‘2A West.’ Completing a conference-only slate standing 0-6, the Rams were shut out three times including a season-ending 44-0 home loss to Parachute Grand Valley. Able to total only 20 points offensively, a morale-boosting six did come in a 48-6 home loss to Manitou Springs – which would go on to stun Westminster Flatirons Academy in double-OT, 31-30, to snatch the Spring 2021 State Championship. It was the 7-1 Mustangs’ third win by three or fewer points.
After hosting Roaring Fork, IHS (3-2, 3-2 1A Southern Peaks in Fall ’20) will travel to 3A Newcomb, N.M., for a 7 p.m. start Sept. 3. The Skyhawks will have opened at 2A Laguna Acoma on the 27th, following a brief Spring 2021 in which NHS went 0-4 overall (all games were squeezed into the month of March) and faced just one District 1-3A rival in Crownpoint.
Ignacio will next visit Trinidad on Sept. 10, with the Miners back in the 1A Santa Fe after going 0-3 last fall as a COVID-relocated Tri-Peaks inclusion, and 0-6 overall. THS’ last win came Oct. 18, 2019, when they defeated Ellicott 44-24 in SFC play.
Returning to IHS Field, the Bobcats will welcome Farmington, N.M., Navajo Prep on Sept. 17. Now another New Mexico Activities Association Dist. 1-3A member, the Eagles were unable to see action this past season due to pandemic-mitigation measures, but had finished 5-5 overall and 2-1 in Dist. 5/6 play in 2019.
Following a bye week, Ignacio will get October underway hosting Dolores on the 1st. While a road trip to Montezuma Creek, Utah; Whitehorse had been considered for the same date, rumbling with their longtime SoPeaks nemesis couldn’t be passed up … even if said nemesis won’t be part of the SPC picture this season.
After going an abbreviated 0-5 overall, 0-4 SPC last fall, DHS – whose slide reached 20 consecutive contests overall since mid-2018 and 15 straight conference clashes (including last year’s 57-0 loss at Ignacio) since 2017 – was rumored to possibly drop to 8-man, what with dates against long-established 8-man programs Mancos, Dove Creek and Norwood currently appearing on their own schedule.
Late Tuesday morning, Aug. 10, Dolores athletic director John McHenry provided some clarification, stating in an e-mail that DHS will be playing a JV-level season mixing both 8-man and 11-man football.
Homecoming Week brings Center to IHS Field for a 7 p.m. kickoff Fri., Oct. 8. The ’Cats have beaten the Vikings two years running and will look to make it three; CHS managed to play just three times last fall, going 0-3 overall and 0-2 SPC (losing at home to IHS and then at Monte Vista).
Having had plenty of opportunity to gain momentum, Ignacio’s toughest challenges await in Weeks 8 and 9, with both MVHS and Centauri coming to town. Up first at 7 p.m. Fri., Oct. 15, the Pirates went 5-2 overall and a second place 4-1 in the SoPeaks. Having defeated the Bobcats 56-7 last fall out at Sullivan Field, Monte Vista’s losses in 2020 were to non-conference 1A Colorado Springs Christian (in MVHS’ season-opener), and at Centauri with the SPC title at stake.
48-nil victors in La Jara over Monte, Centauri – in town Oct. 22 – never experienced a true challenge until the postseason when, as the Class 1A State Playoffs’ 6-seed, the Falcons (7-1, 4-0 SPC) upset 3-seed Florence 20-17. But for a fourth straight season, however, Strasburg dashed CHS’ championship dreams, winning 27-14 in the semifinals.
Seeded No. 2 in the reduced eight-team bracket, SHS (8-1) would then lose 28-zip to No. 1 Limon (7-0) in the finale (unlike in 2A, there was no Spring ’21 State Playoffs).
Regular season play for Ignacio will conclude Fri., Oct. 29, at Del Norte. The Tigers’ lone win during the truncated Fall 2020 campaign came 30-0 against hapless Dolores; IHS would drub DNHS (1-4, 1-3 SPC) 40-0 six days later at IHS Field.
Formal CHSAA-sanctioned practices got underway Aug. 9, with players first permitted to don full uniforms Aug. 12-13. Full-contact drills could begin Sat., Aug. 14, but all practice dates are limited by the Association to just one practice per.