The second week of the high school football season won’t get any easier for the Bayfield Wolverines. They face another consensus top-five team in all of Class 2A.
Bayfield High School (0-1) will travel to face No. 4 Lamar at 1 p.m. Saturday. A week ago, BHS opened the season at home with a 32-16 defeat against No. 1 Delta. But, after the Wolverines opened the game with a 16-0 lead, head coach Gary Heide is convinced the team will travel well and earn a victory at Lamar.
“I wouldn’t make the trip up to Lamar if I didn’t think we were going to go up there, come away with a victory and come back 1-1,” Heide told the Wolverines after the loss to Delta.
Lamar’s offense turned in a dominant display in a 41-20 road victory at No. 8 Elizabeth in Week 1. Lamar rushed for 277 total yards and added 164 through the air in the victory despite three interceptions from senior quarterback Zane Rankin.
Rankin was 8-of-18 passing for 164 yards, one touchdown and the three turnovers. The Bayfield defense will look to force him into a few more mistakes Saturday after it collected two interceptions and two fumbles against Delta.
Before zeroing in on Rankin, BHS will have to stop the Lamar run game. Damion Antonio Ramos, another senior, ripped off 136 yards and a touchdown on only six carries in Week 1, aided largely by an 86-yard TD run. Jesus Reyes, another senior, added 72 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Rankin also showed his ability as a mobile quarterback with 62 yards and a rushing score on eight attempts.
Outside, the Bayfield defensive backs will keep an eye on Lamar senior wide receiver Blake Buxton, the favorite target of Rankin who had four catches, including one for a touchdown, for 102 yards last week.
“They have a multi-purpose quarterback and really good running backs who run for a lot of yards,” Heide said. “They break through the line, and they’re gone. It all goes back to us having 11 defenders being in the right spots at the right time. If we don’t make a tackle, it puts a lot of pressure on the other 10 guys. We have to play smart, tackle well and limit their big plays.”
Defensively, Rankin led Lamar in the season opener with 10 tackles, while linebacker Devyn Kincade made nine, including two sacks.
BHS, led by junior quarterback Isaac Ross and the two-headed rushing attack of Cade Carlson and Cael Schaefer, will have to do a good job protecting the ball against a turnover-minded Lamar defense, too. Last week, Lamar had five interceptions and a fumble recovery. Antonio Ramos had two interceptions and returned them for 96 yards and a touchdown, while Rankin also had two picks and Buxton intercepted a pass and forced another fumble that Rankin recovered.
“It’s about mental toughness and execution,” Heide said. “Our running backs and wide receivers all practice ball security. Now, it’s about applying what we are taught and doing it right for 48 minutes.”
Last week, Ross got off to a strong start going 11-of-17 passing for 11 yards and a touchdown pass to go-to receiver Crosby Edwards, who had a massive game with five catches for 52 yards and a touchdown on offense to go with an interception and a fumble recovery on defense.
“Isaac threw the ball well, and we’ve got good running backs and receivers with him,” Heide said. “I loved the balance of our offense, if we can execute.”
Ross’ passing added to 114 team rushing yards, though 91 of those came in the first half. Carlson led the rush attack with 56 yards and a touchdown, while Schaefer totaled 60 total offensive yards on nine runs and three receptions. Brecken Espinosa also got in the mix in the run game on crucial downs for BHS.
“The line did fantastic last week. Maybe we want to execute a few blocks a little better, but they knew exactly where they were going,” Heide said. “I was impressed with that part of our offense. The backfield and receivers had a few mixups that had to do with new people in some new spots, so we’ve focused on that this week. If we are in the right spots and doing the right things, it can turn into a game-breaking play.”
Bayfield proved to be a disciplined team Week 1 with only two penalties for 10 yards the entire game. It was a positive sight given only two weeks of practices since the delayed start to the fall season was approved during the COVID-19 pandemic.
And while BHS also didn’t convert any turnovers in Week 1, Heide knows the team will have to repeat that performance and see some improvements with conditioning in the second half. Depth became an issue last week when cramps and other ailments forced key players to the sideline in the second half.
“This week, it’s about being a student of the game and being able to mentally execute when we’re tired,” Heide said. “We have to put being tired out of our mind. That’s the rallying call this week. We’re not really deep and have lots of kids that play two ways. It’s going to be a warm day, and we’re playing a really good team. We have to be able to attack in the middle of the third and fourth quarters like it’s the middle of the first.”