The Bayfield Wolverines hope to finish the second half of the regular-season schedule better than they have finished the second half of games so far this season.
It is another top-five opponent this week for winless Bayfield High School. This time, it comes from a smaller school, though. Class 2A Bayfield (0-3, 0-2 Southwestern League) will take on Class 1A No. 4 Florence (3-0, 2-0 Tri-Peaks League) at 7 p.m. Friday in Florence. The two teams agreed to play last weekend, as both were without Week 4 opponents because of COVID-19 related schedule changes.
BHS head coach Gary Heide was happy to pick up the game, calling it just what the doctor ordered after three tough losses to top-ranked Class 2A teams. Still, he knows Florence will put up a tough test for the Wolverines.
“We are anxious to get out there and get our first win,” Heide said. “The guys are upbeat. We just want to get them to execute well, show some urgency and make sure we don’t let down at all. We have to keep the confidence.”
Florence replaced Manitou Springs on the Bayfield schedule, while the Wolverines replaced Rye on the home team’s slate. Now, BHS has a shorter road trip than originally anticipated with an easier 250-mile journey to Florence to face the Huskies.
The Huskies, coached by Jeremy Nix, have had eight days to prepare after a 48-6 win against Peyton. The team has previous wins this season of 48-6 against Rocky Ford and 32-8 against Gunnison.
Florence has gotten it done by running the football for an average of 187 yards per game. The team is led by senior Owen Bussetti, who has 335 yards and six touchdowns on only 26 carries. Junior fullback Jacob Kennedy has run for another 274 yards on 24 carries with a team-high seven touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Lincoln Nix has run more than he has passed the ball. Nix has 145 rushing yards and two scores on 23 carries. He has thrown nine times with seven completions for 108 yards and one touchdown to Kennedy.
“They’ve got quick backs, a big fullback and play the same kind of defense we play,” Heide said. “They got some great kids who you can tell are well coached.”
Nobody on Florence has more than two receptions. After facing teams capable of throwing the first three weeks, Heide is excited to see his defense go to work against a run-oriented team.
Florence has fumbled six times this season but has only lost two. The Bayfield defense has shown an ability to create multiple turnovers per game this season, so taking advantage when the ball is up for grabs will be key for BHS to get in the win column.
“It’s about being able to get off the ball defensively and make the first read correctly and attack,” Heide said. “Smart, assignment football. They run the option well, but we are familiar with it. Turnovers are a huge part of the game, and it will be one of the main goals to tackle hard, get the ball and win the turnover game.”
BHS has been led this season by junior quarterback Isaac Ross, who has 466 yards and three touchdowns while he has completed 56.9% of his passes. But he has been intercepted four times. Senior receiver Crosby Edwards has continued his strong season. He now has 13 receptions for 254 yards and three touchdowns.
The rushing attack has been split between Cade Carlson and Cael Schaefer, and the Wolverines will look to get them established early Friday night.
For Bayfield, the story of the season has been poor play in the second half of games. BHS has scored all 37 of its points in the first half but has been shutout in the second in all three games this year, being outscored 72-0 in the losses to Delta, Lamar and Pagosa Springs.
“It seems to me that we are getting off the ball and attacking more and are more dominant on the offensive line in the first half than the second half,” Heide said. “I don’t know how to explain it other than that. It seems we’re just more physical in the first half than the second half. We need to dig deep, gotta have heart and believe we can be the same the second half as we are in the first half.”