The Pirates came storming out of the gate last Saturday night with an impressive 44-17 victory over the 1A Bobcats in Ignacio.
Like any “Zero Week” game, however, the Pirates’ performance exhibited some kinks that, hopefully, will be worked out by mid-September when Pagosa begins its uninterrupted stretch of conference games.
“For a new coach, new coaching staff, new offense and defense, and a lot of young kids, I thought they did a real good job,” said Coach Olin Garrison, remarking on his first game as head coach, adding, “There were some moments in the game where we made some mistakes and needed to make some adjustments ... some of the younger kids were pretty nervous and we needed to calm them down.”
In fact, a mistake within the first two minutes handed the Bobcats an early lead. With the Pirates in possession near their own goal line, quarterback Tyson Ross found himself under pressure at the two-yard line. A disputed intentional grounding call gave Ignacio a safety, putting the Bobcats out 2-0 and giving them a shot on offense.
However, unable to stop the Pirate running and passing game, the Bobcats found themselves down 14-2 at the end of the first quarter. Not gaining any ground, Ignacio left the half down 20-2 after Pagosa connected on a touchdown pass in the second quarter.
The Pirates continued their onslaught, nearly shutting the Bobcats out in the third after scoring three more touchdowns and going up 38-2 in the quarter. However, the Bobcats struck back in the final minutes of the third, running back a Pagosa kickoff to make it a 38-9 game.
“Our punting and kickoff coverage definitely has to improve,” Garrison said after the game.
Garrison began substituting players late in the third, and in the final seconds the Pirates scored again, up 44-9 as the team went into the final quarter.
It was during that quarter when Garrison decided to give his younger players some field experience, playing his JV squad to the end.
“I was glad to get those younger guys out there and get them some game experience,” Garrison said.
Although Ignacio was able to slide in one more touchdown to make it a 44-17 game, Garrison was nonetheless pleased with the performance by his JV team.
“They managed to score on our subs,” the coach said, “but just the one (touchdown) and overall, I thought they did a great job.”
Garrison concluded, “It was an important win for us, to get started off on the right foot.”
Ross led the team with 180 yards passing and 34 rushing yards, scoring one touchdown after intercepting an Ignacio pass. Daniel Puskas took three touchdown passes and completed 100 reception yards while logging two interceptions. Clay Ross was credited with 49 yards and one touchdown, as well as two sacks.
The Pirates are back on the road this weekend, motoring over the pass to challenge the 1A Tigers in Del Norte in the first day game of the season (the Pirates play a second day game in Centauri on Oct. 29 against the Falcons). Playing at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Pagosa is hoping to repeat the 47-24 trouncing they handed Del Norte last season.
With a new coach this year, the Tigers are trying out a new offense and a new defense, much like the Pirates.
However, the Tigers field a seasoned squad, returning with standout juniors Colin and Kevin Trujillo, along with junior Kristopher Lohr, the three providing a quick and relentless offensive attack.
“It should be an interesting game,” Garrison said.
Pirates fans will have to wait until Sept. 9 to see their team at home, when Pagosa hosts the Kirtland Central Broncos. Having fallen 69-47 to the Broncos last season in Kirtland, N.M., the Pirates will once again face a seasoned and swift offense that provides an intimidating two-pronged attack. As usual, the Broncos bring a lot of size on a line this year, a situation that will most likely force the Pirates to pick up the pace on offense and defense as Pagosa players attempt to maneuver around Kirtland Central’s intimidating size.
League play begins Sept. 23 when Pagosa hosts the Alamosa Mean Moose at Golden Peaks Stadium. After defeating the Mean Moose 46-27 last year in Alamosa, the Pirates hope they can repeat that rout this year with a challenge at home. However, with the Mean Moose fielding 11 seniors this year, Alamosa promises to return this year with a refined passing game, providing Pagosa’s secondary an ample workout.
From then on, Pagosa’s schedule is locked in with conference matches, culminating with the traditional season-ending rivalry bout against the Wolverines on Nov. 14 in Bayfield.