The Bobcats have been through a gridiron grinder.
Ignacio High School head football coach Lupe Huerta said hell be missing at least two of his starting players tonight in the teams final game against Dolores to wrap up a season thats seen the teams numbers dwindle with each passing week.
The Bobcats lost sophomore leading rusher Iaasic Peña to a neck injury this week, as well as freshman wide reciever Charles Rhode to a concussion. And Huerta said illness has been making the rounds, too, leaving the squad depleted for practice.
Its going to have an impact, he said.
Were not going to be limited too much, just on how aggressive we can get with those particular kids in the lineup, Huerta said about filling the gaps with some older but less-experienced players.
Weve got some other kids that were going to plug in.
The good news for the Bobcats is the Bears might be a few cubs short of a den, too. The Dolores team was forced to forfeit its game against Centauri last week with 20 of their 28 players ineligible to play at least 10 for violating the team code of conduct and the others because of poor grades, according to The Cortez Journal.
I know they had some issues, Huerta said. So I dont know how badly that will affect them.
One way or the other, the game plan remains the same.
The Bears feature a dangerous run game, Huerta said, so his teams job is to shut it down and force Dolores to put the bail in the air.
Theyre pretty solid. Theyve got some speed, Huerta said. Theyve got a decent run game on the outside, and weve got to contain that.
The Bears Mikeal Ford will be the one Bobcats defensive leaders Blaine Mickey, a lineman, and Austin Haire, a linebacker, we be looking to shut down.
They need to have a big game defensively to make sure we stop that run, Huerta said.
I want (Dolores) to pass the ball.
The Bobcats have had a tendency to give up big plays all year, trading big stops on one play for a big gain the next, especially on the ground.
Theyre going to get their yards, Huerta said. We just have to make sure we dont give up any big plays.
The big thing for me is we limit what they get and try to control the line of scrimmage.
On the other side of the ball, Huerta said hell keep relying on quarterback Adison Jones, particularly through the air. Hell also be looking to Clayton Jefferson, already a critical element of the receiving game, to step up.
Hes a big key, Huerta said. Hes going to have to pick up the slack with Iaasic gone.
At 2-6 overall and 1-3 in the Southern Peaks League, the Bobcats are looking to pick up a second conference win after beating Center 18-13 on Oct. 12. Theyve also got a chance to spoil the Bears (3-5, 2-2 SPL) hopes of a winning conference record.
Our goal (tonight), we want to stop their offense, Huerta said. I know we can score; its defensively that weve struggled.
Either way, I think its going to be a tough game.