Scoring long touchdowns on their first play from scrimmage as well as their last, offense most definitely wasn’t a problem last Friday night for the Ignacio Bobcats, a football team that featured an improved air raid passing game reliant upon junior Gabe Tucson’s precision-guided projectiles hitting intended targets in stride.
It was a brilliant performance for Tucson, who threw for 286 yards and four touchdowns, all in the first half. Added to a potent defensive effort to hold Dolores quarterback Wyatt Koskie to single-digit rushing yards and effectively nothing through the air, Ignacio romped in a 57-0 victory to improve to 2-0 this season with a win in the home opener.
“We wanted to be on defense first, be the ones hitting them in the mouth first,” grinned senior running back/linebacker Joe Garcia. “We were excited for it.”
Almost as if they were walking in the cleats of a longtime 1A Southern Peaks League power which they’ll face at 1 p,m. Friday, and see whether or not their execution within the slaughter really had the proverbial razor’s edge commonly associated with Centauri.
Incredibly limited last Friday to just seven first-quarter points, the fifth-ranked Falcons (3-0, 2-0 SPL) exploded for 37 in the second en route to devastating Del Norte (0-3, 0-2) by a 66-0 margin on the overwhelmed Tigers’ revamped Speiser Field.
Senior quarterback McKay Russell was 6-of-10 for 176 yards and three scores, while the backfield duo of juniors Mason Claunch (11 carries for 66 yards and two touchdowns) and Zach Buhr (two rushes, 78 yards and a touchdown) was potent, accounting for 144 of Centauri’s’ reported 156 rushing yards.
And like Ignacio’s talented receiving trio of Shawn Campbell (three catches, 134 yards and two touchdowns versus Dolores), Toledo (five catches, 81 yards and one TD) and Labarthe (two catches, 39 yards and a touchdown), Centauri showed ability to stretch the gridiron vertically against Del Norte with juniors Baron Holman (two catches, 51 yards) and Byron Shawcroft (two catches, 56 yards and a touchdown), plus sophomore Peyton Polzin (two catches, 69 yards and two touchdowns).
Defensively, one need only view Centauri’s current 189-7 points for/against differential to know how difficult an IHS invasion of their La Jara nest will be once the kickoff goes airborne. In fact, the only points against Centauri came when non-conference Rocky Ford’s Markus Rodriquez returned a first-quarter interception of Russell and Nate Nelander booted the extra point.
“I told the coaches when we left the field that we need to let our kids know they can play with these guys,” Ignacio coach Alfonso “Ponch” Garcia said of Centauri after his team’s win against Dolores. “We believe they can go out there and compete and play hard and have fun doing it. Hopefully, with the way things are rolling our way, the momentum continues.”
Similar to Dolores’ individual stat leaders against Ignacio were the Tigers’ against Centauri; senior Logan Cestone caught four passes for 37 yards (Bear junior Chase Philpot grabbed three for 34), while Gallegos led in rushing with 27 yards on 14 carries (Dolores junior Caleb Montoya gained 40 on five).
But stifled numbers don’t surprise the Bobcats (2-0, 2-0 SPL) in the least; since Centauri’s 2012 arrival from the disbanded 2A Mountain League, the Falcons are 8-0 versus Ignacio and have been held below 40 points just once (excluding a 2018 forfeit win) while allowing just 45 combined points.
For Ignacio, virtual perfection in all aspects of the sport, especially ball control, clock management and penalty avoidance, will be required to achieve any objective.
“Just need to watch film again,” said Tucson. “Prepare and get ready for a good game.”