Tue Aug 23rd, 2022
Special to the Drum
IHS rips Red Mesa 70-0 in pseudo-opener
Having learned just hours before kickoff Friday, August 19, that his team’s 2022 season-opener wouldn’t be a true season-opener but more an interstate scrimmage, Ignacio Football head coach Alfonso ‘Ponch’ Garcia wasn’t exactly over the moon about hosting Red Mesa, Ariz., for a reduced-stakes rumble.
“Before, the assumption was that it was going to be a game, and now it’s not. Well, it is, but it’s not,” he explained in a midday phone call. “Their A.D. told me, ‘We’re going to be wearing our practice stuff’ and I was like, ‘That’s fine; I don’t care.’”
“It’s a game, but it’s a ‘practice’ game … if you want to call it that,” Garcia continued, “but I would like to keep this a ‘game’ situation instead of having to stop throughout the whole thing, you know?”
IHS’ players certainly agreed; action against a team which had narrowly qualified for the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Class 2A State Playoffs last fall would have to be as real as it gets. “Ponch said this was a real game,” said freshman Lincoln deKay. “We all took it like it was the start of our season.”
“Backyard football! That’s how we had to think about it,” senior John Riepel said. “There’s nothing to it; that’s our home turf and we’ve got to protect it.”
“To be honest, I was a little nervous; they were some big kids,” said senior Anthony Toledo. “I was thinking, ‘Don’t mess up!’ ‘Don’t forget the plays!’ But once we got out there, all my nerves went away.”
Save for several false-start or illegal-procedure penalties – one of which wiped out a 50-yard deKay touchdown run during the fourth quarter – plus a fair amount of mistimed center-quarterback exchanges, the Bobcats were nothing if not relentless in gouging the guests at IHS Field by a final 70-0 margin.
Toledo logged rushing touchdowns of 23 and 2 yards, junior Devante Montoya rushed for 13- and 19-yard scores and also caught a 29-yard score from Riepel – who also rushed for TDs of 56 and 80 yards, plus returned not one, but two interceptions for scores covering 81, and 25 yards respectively. Able to plow in for two two-point conversions, deKay managed to register a touchdown via a 1-yard fumble return, increasing Ignacio’s lead to 48-0 with 0:57 left in the first half.
Using CHSAA’s mercy-rule running-clock rules, IHS’ advantage still grew to 64-0 through three quarters and maxed out with 1:34 remaining in the fourth when Riepel ran back his second pick-six.
“Their quarterback, his number-one wide receiver was No. 2,” Riepel said. “So anytime he’d look over to his side I’d just jump the route. Look for him, look where his eyes were going, and just sit on it.”
Still with time to run at least another play after re-starting from their own 20-yard line (by design there were no kickoffs, point-after kicks, or punt returns in the clash), RMHS ended the game completing a 14-yard pass – equaling a third-quarter hook-up for their second-longest gain, with both bettering an 11-yard throw recorded on the evening’s very first play.
Aerially, Red Mesa unofficially netted 63 yards on five completions, but was intercepted three times (immediately after a 16-yard RMHS pass, Marcus Maez booked the third INT with about nine minutes left in regulation). All told, the ’Cats claimed six takeaways, including fumble-recoveries by Elliott Hendren and squad newcomer Zane Ross, while losing the ball just once.
Able to drop RMHS’ passer behind the line of scrimmage no fewer than a half-dozen times, IHS unofficially allowed just five positive-yardage totes while keeping the enemy overwhelmingly in the negative from start to finish.
En route to building a 20-0 lead after the first quarter, despite three failed conversion attempts, Ignacio initially took the lead when the visitors fumbled a punt snap out of the end zone, surrendering the Bobcats a two-point safety with 9:50 left.
“Starting off, it was a little bit scary, but that went away,” said deKay. “I think the coaches would have appreciated, like, zero mistakes; we have a lot to work on.”
Unofficially, Riepel gained 139 yards rushing on five carries and was 2-for-2 passing for 41 before giving way to backup Zane Pontine (0-for-0). Toledo carried eight times for 45 and Montoya three for 23. Nate Hendren picked up a promising 40 yards on just four carries, and deKay ended up netting 27 on two.
“If they wanted to keep score or not … I don’t care,” Garcia said. “The idea is for us to learn and move forward, to give us an idea of what’s going on.”
Up next, Red Mesa is slated to visit 3A Page, Ariz., on August 26 for a 7 p.m. non-conference kickoff. Due to a scheduling snafu – involving original 8/26 opponent Parachute Grand Valley, elevated this year to CHSAA’s Class 2A – leading to RMHS’ inclusion on the schedule, Ignacio will have an extra ‘bye’ week before finally hosting Montezuma Creek, Utah, Whitehorse on September 9 at 7 p.m.