Fri Jan 28th, 2022
Special to the Drum
Categories: Sports, Football, Sports
Tags: Abraham Echauri, Alfonso ‘Ponch’ Garcia, All-Conference Team, Byron Shawcroft, Charlie Pargin, CHSAA Class 1A State Championship, First Team All-SPC, Gabe Tucson, Ignacio Bobcats, Jeremy Roderick, joel priest, John Riepel, McKay Russell, Neta & Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl
Following his team’s upset win at IHS Field on Oct. 8, Center senior Abraham Echauri more than adequately expressed not only his fellow Vikings’ viewpoint, but perhaps even the Bobcats’ or any Southern Peaks team savoring a success.
“We love all … competition,” he said, “but … winners got to keep winning and keep dreaming.”
That certainly summed up Ignacio for the Fall 2021 football campaign’s first half, before demoralizing injuries helped derail the program’s most optimistic season – prior to hosting CHS, the ’Cats had stood 5-0 for the first time since 2002 – in years.
“I feel like we did … okay,” said senior Jeremy Roderick, versatile enough to play any position on the offensive and/or defensive lines. “Freshman year, we were pretty much 0-and … . Sophomore year, pretty much the same thing, then junior and senior year were both winning seasons – I’m happy about that, that we turned the program around.”
“For the kids that are still here, we’re just going to continue … to develop their work ethic, you know?” head coach Alfonso ‘Ponch’ Garcia said. “We’ve got to make sure they continue doing it.”
Despite ending up 0-4 in SPC play, IHS still finished 5-4 overall and when the All-Conference Team was announced, had multiple players justly saluted.
Leading the way as First Team All-SPC picks were Roderick and junior running back/tight end/linebacker John Riepel. Freshman lineman Charlie Pargin earned Second Team distinction along with senior quarterback/defensive back Gabe Tucson – probably denied First Team status only due to the fact Centauri senior Byron Shawcroft, a First Team honoree, not only replaced predecessor McKay Russell but quarterbacked the Falcons to the CHSAA Class 1A State Championship.
Seeded No. 2 in the 16-team Playoffs, Centauri first blew through 15-seed Peyton 45-6, then buried No. 10 Yuma 40-7 to meet 3-seed Buena Vista in one semifinal. The Demons, however, ended up standing zero chance, blown out 42-6 as the Falcons flew into the Nov. 27 grand finale, held inside CSU-Pueblo’s Neta & Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl.
And in the end, the SoPeaks’ kings at last captured the crown with a 24-21 win over powerhouse Limon – dropping the North Central Conference champs to 12-1 overall while improving themselves to 12-0 after a fourth-quarter field goal halted the three-time defending State Champion Badgers’ win streak, dating back to 2019, at 23.
Veteran CHS skipper Kyle Forster was named SPC Coach-of-the-Year, with First Team All-Conference seniors Mason Claunch and Zach Buhr named Offensive and Defensive Player-of-the-Year, respectively. Senior Baron Holman, senior Danny Brady and sophomore Deven Brady also received First Team All-SPC nods for their efforts.
Led by First Team junior power back Khegan Gunter, Monte Vista reached the postseason as the Playoffs’ No. 13 seed but then fizzled out with a first-round 23-0 loss to 4-seed Florence – leaving MVHS (3-1 SPC) a finalized 6-4 overall. Pirates Alejandro Felix, Dusty Duran, Keyshawn Martinez and DeAngelo Archuleta were also First Team picks, while senior QB Colton Mellott was named Honorable Mention All-SPC – as was Ignacio sophomore WR/DB Devante Montoya.
Motivated by Echauri, named Second Team All-Conference, Center finished a third-place 2-2 in Southern Peaks action, but 3-6 overall after their long-shot postseason hopes were shattered by a 54-0 home loss to MVHS, then a 47-0 home loss to Western Slope rulers Meeker.
Gifted a late-season forfeit win over drastically depleted IHS, Del Norte finished 1-2 SPC (the Tigers’ game against Centauri, which finished 3-0 SPC, was not played due to COVID-19 impacting both sides) and 2-7 overall, with Malachi Gallegos, Brennan Velasquez and Carter Simon named First Team All-Conference.
Ignacio’s high-energy 53-52 home win over Farmington, N.M., Navajo Prep unquestionably went down as the Bobcats’ high point of the season. It will shine brighter considering that the Eagles, despite having one victory – a 42-6 rout of non-district Crownpoint – later revised to a forfeit loss, qualified for the postseason in the Land of Enchantment.
Making the 12-team NMAA Class 3A Playoffs as the No. 9 seed, NP (3-0 District 1-3A) ultimately finished 5-6 overall after falling 57-36 to 8-seed Albuquerque Hope Christian in the first round.