A year after winning a state championship behind a historic defense, it was fitting that the Wolverines would score two of their first three touchdowns of the 2018 season while on defense.
Bayfield High School was dominant on defense Friday night in the season opener at New Mexico’s Farmington High School. The Wolverines had five interceptions in the first half, including two returned for touchdowns by David Hawkins and Keyon Prior to help the team get out to a 26-6 advantage at halftime.
Forced to throw after going behind early, it only got worse for the host Scorpions on Friday night at Hutchison Stadium. Bayfield’s offense matched the defense’s effort in the second half en route to a 54-13 victory.
“I wasn’t expecting that, to be honest,” BHS head coach Gary Heide said. “Farmington has a new coordinator and quarterback and is going through some growing pains. Tonight, we were able to take advantage of that. Hats off to our boys and how they played. With a team like Farmington, they have the ability to come back on you, but we came out fired up the second half, and that’s a good sign. We don’t get complacent, no matter the score or time of the game. We dominated the second half more than the first.”
It was the first time the two teams had played since 1947, a game Farmington won 60-0. The Wolverines made sure that history wouldn’t repeat itself.
“Coach was giving us hype all week,” Prior said. “We were excited to show the state what we have. We graduated a lot of guys last year, but we’re back and shooting for another state championship.”
When the Wolverines weren’t busy intercepting the Scorpions, the pass rush was getting to FHS. The Wolverines had four sacks led by Daniel Westbrook, Rhett Hoover and Shane Moore. The play of nose guard Isaac Lorenzen quickly convinced the Scorpions to abandon running up the middle.
Hawkins intercepted Farmington quarterback Ian Kee on the Scorpions’ first drive. He returned it 25 yards for the first BHS touchdown of the season. Max McGhehey’s extra point was blocked, and the Wolverines led 6-0 with 9 minutes, 43 seconds to go in the first quarter.
Bayfield’s defense forced a three-and-out, and then it was the offense of Bayfield that got going. After a big Hayden Farmer pass to Cameron Liddell got the Wolverines set up inside Farmington’s 30-yard-line, Keyon Prior broke a 15-yard touchdown run to give the Wolverines a 14-0 lead after a successful 2-point conversion with 5:55 to play in the first quarter.
FHS answered back with a 44-yard touchdown pass from Kee to Juan Medrano down the left side of the field. Bayfield blocked the extra point, but its lead was cut to 14-6 with 4:56 to play in the first quarter.
It was all Wolverines from there. Prior had an interception that he returned 38 yards for a touchdown that gave Bayfield a 20-6 lead in the final minute of the first quarter. Prior added another interception on a big third down play that gave the Wolverines the ball at midfield.
“Keyon, he’s a fantastic athlete,” Heide said. “He’s incredibly humble, and there’s nothing but great things ahead of him. He’s 15 pounds bigger and even faster. He’s going to have a special year.”
A few moments later, Bayfield was in the end zone on a 45-yard touchdown pass from Farmer to James Mottin. The 2-point try again failed, and Bayfield’s lead was 26-6 with 4:53 to go in the first half.
BHS sophomore Dylan Hilliker, who was all over the field Friday night, came up with an interception on a diving effort on a pass by FHS backup quarterback Vince Castelli. The Wolverines couldn’t turn it into points before halftime after a failed fake punt attempt, but the half ended when Farmer intercepted Kee in the end zone for the fifth interception of the half.
Bayfield kept rolling in the second half. Hilliker broke a 72-yard touchdown run on the Wolverines’ second offensive play of the half. The next time the Wolverines touched the ball, the team ran down Farmington’s throat before Farmer hit Mottin on a 17-yard touchdown pass for his third scoring toss of the night. That gave the Wolverines a 40-6 lead in the third quarter after a pair of successful extra points from McGhehey.
“We missed some touchdowns in the first half, but we will get that figured out,” Heide said. “Hilliker, he’s the kind fo athlete who will be quiet and then, boom, he’s running right past you for a touchdown. We’ve got a lot of guys like that.”
Prior got into the end zone for the third time Friday with less than 2 minutes to go in the third quarter. As the FHS defense over-pursued to one side, Prior cut back and ran 24 yards to the end zone. McGhehey added the extra point, and Bayfield led 47-6.
“Shout out to my line setting up all the holes,” Prior said. “We’ve got another beastly line this year. It feels great to be back running behind them.”
FHS wouldn’t go down without one more score. Kale Lucas hauled in a 66-yard touchdown pass to cut the Wolverines’ lead to 47-13 with 34 seconds to go in the third quarter.
BHS got a scare on its next possession. Prior lunged for the end zone and was down a half yard shy from the goal line. He remained on the ground and appeared to be injured, but he walked off the field under his own power with only a cramp. Hawkins ran in for a touchdown one play later to give Bayfield a 53-13 lead.
The Wolverines now own a 14-game winning streak. The school record is 15 games, and BHS can match that when it will travel to play San Juan High School at 7 p.m. Friday in Blanding, Utah. Bayfield’s home opener is at 1 p.m. Sept. 8 against Aspen.
The Wolverines have won a program record 20 consecutive games at home at Wolverine Country Stadium.
“San Juan is a big game for us,” Heide said. “We can’t be complacent. The last time we showed up there two years ago, we got it handed to us. We know we’re going against a school with great tradition, and you can never underestimate that. We don’t underestimate anybody.”