Homecoming night went about as well as any member of the Durango High School football team could have hoped for Friday night.
The Demons, playing at home for the first time in 41 days, moved down the field with ease on offense and the defense stymied just about everything Pueblo Central tried to do en route to a 46-6 victory at DHS.
“We needed this win,” Durango junior running back Dawson Marcum said. “Playing on homecoming and feeding off the crowd just brings your energy up another level. You definitely don’t want to lose on homecoming.”
Durango scored touchdowns on its first four possessions and didn’t need many plays to do so on any of the possessions. The Demons had touchdown drives consisting of four, five, two and three plays.
After receiving the opening kickoff, the Demons went 60 yards in four plays, all on the ground, and scored on a 5-yard Marcum run just 1 minute, 52 seconds into the game. Marcum broke a 42-yard run on the Demons’ first play to help set up the touchdown.
“With homecoming and the atmosphere and all the excitement, we wanted them to feed off all of that and start fast – and we did that pretty well,” Durango head coach David Vogt said.
On the Demons’ next offensive possession, they scored on a 20-yard touchdown run by senior Max Hyson, who got tripped up at the 5-yard line and dove across the goal line for the score. Manasseh Brockus scored a 2-point conversion to give the Demons a 15-0 lead.
The next possession ended with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Woolverton to junior Alex Hise that capped a two-play 34-yard drive.
The fourth TD came on a quick toss to wide receiver Kade Jackson, who motioned from the left side and broke through the defense for a 42-yard score.
Durango kicker Harrison Kairalla added a 25-yard field goal that sent the game to halftime with the Demons leading 32-0.
The Demons (5-3, 2-1 South Central League) dominated defensively in the first half as well.
In the first half, Durango held the Wildcats (1-7, 0-3 SCL) to negative 6 yards of offense, and the Wildcats’ two first downs in the half were the result of Durango defensive penalties. “The coaching staff really worked hard on the defensive scheme and the boys executed it to perfection and it was really fun to watch,” Vogt said. “When the kids play to their potential, it’s just fun to watch.”
Penalties were a small problem for the Demons in the first half. During one drive, the Demons started on the Wildcats’ 12-yard line after a bad Pueblo Central punt, but committed penalties on three plays in a row that moved the ball back to the 40-yard line and put the Demons in first-and-38.
Senior lineman Ryan Barkley believes the penalties were the result of the Demons playing with too much emotion after such a great start to the game, and said the toughest part of having everything going the Demons’ way was trying to keep their excitement under control.
Durango kept rolling in the second half.
The Demons held the Wildcats to a three-and-out on the first series and freshman Gage Mestas returned the Wildcats’ punt 45 yards for a touchdown to make it a 39-0 game.
“That’s a case of working hard and the hard work paying off,” Vogt said of Mestas’ punt return. “A lot of those kids are working their butts off and you could see it there.”
On Pueblo Central’s next possession, the Demons forced a fourth down, but the Wildcats went with a fake punt that resulted in a 58-yard touchdown when Marcus Duran made a one-handed catch and outran the Demons to the end zone. The 2-point conversion failed.
The Wildcats tried an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, but the ball didn’t make it 10 yards before the Wildcats touched it, and Durango started its drive at the Wildcats’ 49-yard line.
The Demons needed only one play to get in the end zone, with Woolverton hitting Jackson down the right sideline for a 49-yard touchdown that made it 46-6 Durango and started a running clock for the rest of the game.
Maybe the only downside to the night for the Demons was an injury to Woolverton, who had to leave the game with an injury to his nonthrowing hand. After the game, Woolverton had his left hand wrapped in ice. Vogt said it was too early to tell how severe the injury might be and they would have to wait until swelling in the hand went down before they could learn any more.
The Demons will be back on the road next week with a trip to Pueblo to face Pueblo County (2-5, 1-1 SCL) at Hornet Stadium.
“We’ve got to keep working hard and stay humble,” Barkley said. “We beat (Pueblo Central) tonight, but we knew we were a better team. We need to keep working hard so we can go out and kick the next team’s (butt).”