The Pagosa Springs Pirates have reached the state Class 2A football playoffs, defeating Bayfield’s Wolverines 23-21 last Friday and securing a tie with Buena Vista for the Mountain League regular season championship.
Both the Pirates and Buena Vista finished with a 4-1 conference record. Pagosa defeated the Demons in regular season play this year.
“I am very proud of this Pirate team,” O’Donnell said. “In last week’s game, we got some breaks and our kids got excited.”
In the Pirates’ game with Bayfield, the Wolverines scored two first-quarter touchdowns to one for the Pirates. That initial Pirate touchdown came on a 34-yard scamper around the left side by Mike Smith, who also kicked the point after touchdown.
Right before halftime a Wolverine pass was intercepted by Pirate Caleb Pringle, who ran the ball back 80 yards to the Wolverine 4 yard line. But the remaining seconds ticked off the clock, and the Pirates had no time to run another play.
At halftime, the Pirates trailed 14-7.
In the third quarter,the Pirates got some breaks. Bayfield fumbled twice, and the fumbles were recovered by Smith and Stephen Melendy.
Pirate quarterback Taylor Shaffer ran 10 yards for six points in the third quarter and Smith ran for a successful two-point conversion after the touchdown.
Shaffer passed to Zach Lucero for the third Pirate touchdown and the quarterback tossed to Cody Bowdridge for a two-point conversion. A Wolverine defender was on Bowdridge’s hip as the Pirate caught the ball, and the PAT provided the critical points for Pagosa as the game clock wound down.
Due to Friday’s defeat, Bayfield finished out of the running with a 3-2 conference record, and won’t take part in the playoffs.
Pirate Coach Sean O’Donnell said, “Bayfield had a good season. It is unfortunate that a team like the Wolverines has to stay home at playoff time.”
Overall, Shaffer completed 14 of 24 pass attempts against Bayfield, for 238 yards.
Among Pirate receivers, Lucero had three receptions, DuCharme caught three balls, Smith and Jordan Caler each caught three.
The Pirates gained 213 yards rushing. Smith ran 21 times for 134 yards. Joe DuCharme ran 11 times for 52 yards. Shaffer had eight carries for 25 yards.
Overall, the Pirates gained 451 yards rushing and passing.
The Pirates had 18 first downs; the Wolverines had 16.
Tyson Ross had only one punt during the game, for 35 yards.
On defense for Pagosa Springs, Sackett Ross led the way with 12 tackles. He was followed by Tyson Ross with nine, and Melendy with seven. DuCharme had five tackles from his linebacker position.
The Pirates have experienced some injuries this season, but O’Donnell expects all players to be ready for the playoff game Saturday. That includes Paul Hoffman, injured two weeks ago.
This Saturday, at 1 p.m., the Pirates host the Manitou Springs Mustangs, runnersup in the Tri-Peaks League with a 7-1 conference record. The champion in the Tri-Peaks League was Florence, with an 8-0 record.
Pagosa’s only 2A loss this season was to Salida. Buena Vista’s only conference loss was at Pagosa. Manitou Springs defeated Buena Vista this season. Buena Vista will travel this weekend to Kent Denver (9-1), as part of the 16-team 2A playoffs.
Manitou Springs allowed an average of 18 points a game to opponents during the regular season. They were a formidable second-place team in the Tri-Peaks League.
“Manitou Springs is strong, rushing and passing,” O’Donnell said.
On the weekend of Nov. 15, the winner of the Pirate-Manitou Springs game will play the winner of the Holy Family-Platte Canyon game.
Ticket prices and entry rules for Saturday’s game are established by the Colorado High School Activites Association and regular season policies do not hold. Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for students and children. Only CHSAA and CCCA passes will be honored.