Fri Nov 4th, 2022
Special to the Drum
Categories: Sports, Football, Sports
Tags: Alfonso ‘Ponch’ Garcia, Del Norte, Devante Montoya, Football, ignacio high school, John Riepel, Lincoln deKay, Zane Pontine
Effective at stretching out and softening visiting Del Norte’s defense Friday night, Oct. 28, Ignacio junior Devante Montoya enjoyed a career day with ten receptions – most on quick throws from freshman Zane Pontine along the line of scrimmage, allowing Montoya’s legs to then do most of the damage – and 150 yards in a 26-6 home win.
Playing for their postseason lives – IHS went into the game No. 17 in CHSAA’s Selection & Seeding Index, with only 16 teams chosen for the Class 1A State Playoffs – the Bobcats also got 146 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 25 carries by senior John Riepel, who operated from behind Pontine as a sign that the torch had been passed from one quarterback to the next.
“We were planning on hitting D a lot tonight,” Riepel explained. “Their corners … didn’t look too special, so we decided to target D more than use the run this game. I’m glad D got over a hundred yards – he hadn’t gotten that type of love all year.”
“I’m hoping we can make Playoffs, so … I can play one last week with the boys.”
“We’ve got a long ways to go,” head coach Alfonso ‘Ponch’ Garcia said, alluding primarily to the fact Ignacio lost the turnover battle, four to two. “But looking in from the outside, let’s hope we get one more game – just to say, ‘Hey, we’re there!’”
After an offensive pass-interference call against Riepel, who prevented a likely Tiger interception, on their first play following a Del Norte turnover-on-downs at IHS’ 37-yard line, Ignacio recovered to complete a 63-yard drive, capped by a 13-yard Riepel run with 4:48 left in the first quarter. Pontine’s two-point conversion run failed, but the ’Cats at least had the lead.
IHS’ next series ended with Pontine throwing an interception, but after Rylan Maez sacked DNHS QB Jace Pacheco to stop the Tigers’ resulting 13-play push (which consumed 6:16 worth of clock and carried into the second quarter) at the Bobcat 13, Ignacio capitalized with a 14-play, 87-yard march (devouring 7:04) culminating in a 2-yard Pontine plunge.
“It was like having a magic wand in your hand, making things up as you went. But it was because of what they were giving us, you know?” said Garcia. “It was like, I was running out of plays to call! And you know what? It turned into a touchdown! So it worked out well.”
Riepel plowed in for the two-pointer, and the Bobcats’ lead grew to 14-0.
Punctuating the momentum shift, the ’Cats (5-3, 3-2 Southern Peaks Conference) proceeded to sack Pacheco three times during the Tigers’ ensuing possession and take over on downs at the Tiger 30 with only 11.4 seconds left. Pontine was promptly picked off by DNHS’ Jaxson Fazio, but the guests were unable to profit from the takeaway.
Riepel returned Del Norte’s kickoff beginning the second half 26 yards to the Ignacio 48, and six plays later carried in a 6-yard TD, increasing the advantage to 20-0 with 8:52 left in the third quarter after Pontine’s conversion keeper was stopped short.
Led on the ground by senior Micheal Laymon, DNHS began their next drive at the Bobcat 48 – following Laymon’s 17-yard kick return – and reached the 1 before Pacheco was stripped of the football by IHS’ D.J. Hendren.
“All week they were talking about how we’re going to stop that young man, because he’s a great quarterback,” Garcia explained. “Their Number Five (Laymon) and Number Three (Cody Worz), they’re amazing kids too, so if we could stop two of them we were going to be okay. But the main one was Number Two; don’t give that kid a chance to pass … that was the idea. And our kids, they all surrounded the ball well – especially around the goal line.”
Set up at their own 7 after a penalty, the Bobcats all but put the game away with an 11-play, 93-yard drive using the quarter’s last 5:01 and ending with a 17-yard Riepel scoring run. Freshman Lincoln deKay was stopped on the two-pointer, but Ignacio led by four scores going into the final frame.
Maez would intercept Pacheco on the Tigers’ seventh play after starting at their own 37, but Del Norte (3-6, 1-4 SPC), after recovering two IHS fumbles, avoided being blanked when Worz hauled in a 50-yard TD from Pacheco with 3:07 remaining.
Maez, however, deflected away Pacheco’s attempted conversion pass, and after then setting up shop at their own 44 following DNHS’ failed onside-kick try, the ’Cats literally ran out the penultimate 3:05 – gaining a needed first down via a 4-yard Nate Hendren carry, and then following it up with two Pontine kneel-downs in ‘victory formation.’
“We were all straight-up animals out there; we were all locked in,” said Riepel. “We were telling ourselves to hit them every single play and give them all we’ve got on defense. I was excited.”
Pontine ended up throwing for 139 yards on 9-of-14 accuracy, while Pacheco went 12-of-21 for 146. Riepel ended up 1-of-1 for 11 yards (to Montoya), and Montoya even went 1-of-1 for 22 (to Maez). Slowed by a third-quarter hip injury, Nate Hendren netted 38 yards on six carries, deKay 11 on two, and Pontine a break-even zero on five.
Coming in off a six-touchdown showing the previous week against Trinidad, Laymon was held scoreless in defeat and totaled (unofficially) 55 yards on 18 carries. Worz finished with four receptions for 83 yards and also carried twice for 13.
Had Ignacio’s season-starting demolition of 2A Red Mesa, Ariz., went into history as an actual game for both teams – Ignacio voted yea, Red Mesa nay – it would have ended up serving a dual purpose:
One, an official predictor of how the 2022 season would go for RMHS – which finished just 1-8 overall.
Two, it would have been IHS’ first of six wins, not five – with six proving a criterion of sorts for teams either qualifying for, or simply hoping to be selected for Playoffs. Considering Red Mesa’s results, the Bobcats’ 70-0 victory back on August 19 may not have strengthened their schedule enough for inclusion, but it definitely would have made things interesting when it came time on the 30th to seed the bracket.
Seeded third, Wiggins got in standing 6-3 and so did 5-seed Yuma, 6-seed Wray, 10-seed Gunnison and 13-seed Colorado Springs Christian. No. 11 Meeker got in standing 5-3, as did No. 14 Hotchkiss North Fork, while 9-seed Holyoke got in with a 4-5 record and Burlington, despite going 0-5 in their conference, somehow got in standing 2-7 overall.
Ultimately, Westminster Flatirons Academy (7-2) was awarded the Playoffs’ No. 16 seed and a first-round game at No. 1 Limon (9-0), last season’s State Runner-up to Centauri – SPC champion again in ’22 with a 5-0 mark, and a 7-2 overall record earning CHS the 7-seed.
“I’m just so proud of our kids for what they have accomplished. They’ve worked so hard,” Garcia said. “We started with 20 and we finished … well, almost with 20 – ended up with 14. But they all worked hard. Hopefully our junior class – nine of them – can pick up the pace and become leaders next year as we start looking to the future.”