IGNACIO - There's something about a football in the air and Ryan Haley.
Haley, a senior wide receiver for Montezuma-Cortez High School, snatched footballs out of the air to the tune of six
catches for 151 yards and one touchdown Friday night, helping the Panthers smother Ignacio High School 42-0 in the
Bobcats' home opener.
"We haven't been too good in the past, so this year we're trying to set a different tradition," said the 6-3, 180-pound Haley, who caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Tallon Ralstin in the first quarter.
Haley pulled in a 45-yard completion down the right sideline on the next drive, setting up a 14-yard touchdown run
for junior Tam Phan.
"We were running a play fake (on the long completion)," Haley said. "So I wasn't ... getting attention, and I busted
a move deep."
Phan's touchdown, the first of three on the night, helped Cortez build a 28-0 halftime lead after the Panthers
exploited three Ignacio turnovers.
The first fumble came on the opening drive of the game after the Bobcats moved into Cortez territory on completions
from quarterback Ryan Brooks to receivers Xavier Watts and Alex PeÃ±a.
"We started off similar to the way we started in Pagosa," Ignacio head coach Lupe Huerta said.
"We were moving, but then we self-destructed."
Another fumble stopped another drive.
The third turnover of the half came when Ralstin stepped in front of an Ignacio pass and returned it 44 yards for a
touchdown right before halftime.
"They are a tough team," Huerta said.
"We knew about No. 4 (Haley), but we still couldn't stop him."
He said the Cortez line play was very good Friday night while the Bobcats struggled on the offensive and defensive
"We've got to get better (up front)," Huerta said. "And we've got to protect our quarterback."
Brooks, the towering 6-6 IHS quarterback, was 9 of 30 for 82 yards with one interception. He also rushed for 30
yards, often out of the shotgun formation.
Senior Pedro Vigil was the workhorse of the Ignacio offense. He rushed 10 times for 52 yards.
Vigil also had a pair of key pass receptions on Ignacio's longest drive of the game.
They marched 65 yards in 13 plays, but the Bobcats were stopped on downs. That set the stage for Haley's long
reception down the sideline.
Phan and Destry Smith pounded the Ignacio defense with Smith totaling 44 yards.
Phan finshed with 112 yards on 14 carries as the Panthers started the season 1-0.
Haley also put the football in the air Friday night, mashing every kickoff deep into the Ignacio end zone - except
for one that went out at the Ignacio 1-yard line.
The rangy senior also successfully converted every point-after kick for the Panthers, flashing the kicking form that
has drawn the interest from college scouts.
On the night, Cortez rushed for 192 yards.
Ralstin completed all six of his passes to Haley.
"Yes, they are a pretty tough team," Huerta said. "This is tough for us. We haven't had a butt-whipping like this in
The Bobcats opened the season last weekend with a 31-14 loss at Pagosa Springs, a member of the Mountain League.
IHS will play at Pine River rival Bayfield next Friday in another game against a bigger school.
After a game at Shiprock, N.M., on Sept. 17, the Bobcats will open the Southern Peaks League at home against Sargent
on Oct. 1.
Ignacio is the two time defending-conference champions.