Ranked fifth in both the Colorado Preps and Denver Post Preps 2A polls (moving up one slot for both rankings), the Pirates more than proved they deserved that placement, making mincemeat of the Alamosa Mean Moose 41-7 this past Friday.
With Friday night’s win, the Pirates are 4-0 on the season and are tied with the Bayfield Wolverines as conference leaders.
In the first conference match of the season for both teams, it was the Pirates who demonstrated league dominance — but not until after numerous missteps and penalties from both teams early in the game.
“It was probably the most physical game we’ve played all year,” said Pirate head coach Olin Garrison. “They brought eight guys up on the defensive line, but our offensive line did a great job containing them and holding them back.”
Garrison also credited a strong showing by the Pirate defense — the second game in a row the squad held back big, physical teams.
Indeed, the first quarter finished with a 0-0 tie as the Pirates found their ground game grinding to a halt against a tough Alamosa defense. Slogging their way to the goal line midway through the second quarter, Pirate quarterback Tyson Ross gained ground with passes to Clay Ross and Daniel Puskas, finally getting close enough to rush into the endzone with seven minutes, 35 seconds left in the half.
Harassed in the backfield by a fast and persistent Mean Moose defense, Tyson managed to connect with Puskas with just :35 left, sending the Pirates out of the half with a 12-0 lead.
Early in the third, the Mean Moose looked as though they’d make it a game after Alamosa’s Sebastian Rogers took a short pass from Zach Meyer 28 yards to just outside the Pirate goal line. Seconds later, Mean Moose Jacob Martinez took a three-yard run in at 7:34 to close the gap 12-7.
It was as if the Alamosa TD woke the Pirates up. Taking the Mean Moose kickoff, sophomore Cody Couch gave the lateral to Tyson who ran the ball back 84 yards, boosting Pagosa’s lead to 20-7. Minutes later, junior Keith Archuleta fell on an Alamosa fumble to set up a brief Pirate drive that finished when freshman Chase Patane rushed short yards over the goal line, putting the Pirates up 26-7 with 3:55 left.
A late-quarter drive by Alamosa made it seem as though some more Mean Moose points would go on the board, but that drive was foiled when Tyson Ross picked off Meyer, taking the ball 35 yards to mid-field. Ross connected twice to Puskas, first for 22 yards and moments later for 13 yards and another Pagosa touchdown, pushing the score out 33-7 with 10:23 left.
Again, the Pirates shut down what looked to be a promising Alamosa drive. Looking at long yards from the Pirates’ own nine-yard line, Tyson Ross again connected to Puskas who, breaking numerous Mean Moose tackles, ran the ball 89 yards for the final touchdown of the game, sealing Alamosa’s fate with a 41-7 Pagosa Springs victory.
Tyson Ross went 12 for 22 for 265 yards passing, and was credited with three TDs (28 total yards rushing). Ross is second in 2A football with a season total 799 yards passing and a division-leading 66-percent completion record.
Puskas logged 224 yards receiving and three TDs in the game; he leads state 2A with nine touchdowns and 25.1 yards per catch.
“Those guys are doing a great job,” Garrison said of the two players. “I’m glad we have them. They can really make a difference in the game.”
Slade Wylie led on defense with eight tackles and four assists.
While the Pirates made an impressive showing for their first conference outing, the Mountain League was a mixed bag on Friday night. In other conference matchups, 1-5 Salida (playing the Pirates in tomorrow night’s homecoming game) defeated the 1-4 Montezuma-Cortez Panthers 14-0 at home for the Spartan’s first season win. The 2-2 Centauri Falcons fell 39-6 to the second-ranked 4-0 Wolverines (ranked fourth by Colorado Preps) in Bayfield.
In a non-league game, the 3-1 Buena Vista Demons pounded the 1-3 Lake County Panthers 56-20 in Leadville. Hovering just beyond the rankings in both polls, the Demons will be in Bayfield tomorrow night to try and gain their place in the rankings (while taking the Wolverines down a notch or two), giving the Pirates a preview of how their two toughest opponents this season fare in a make-or-break game.
Next Friday, the Pirates will travel to Buena Vista for their first real test of the season. However, the Pirates first need to triumph in tomorrow night’s homecoming bout against the Spartans.
Fortunately, the Pirates will be facing a young team that has shown little to challenge the Pirates on either side of the scrimmage line. Allowing 136 points this season (27.2 points per game), while scoring only 42 points, the Spartans will most likely not mar the Pirates’ homecoming with a loss.
Nonetheless, Garrison said he wants his team to keep doing what they’re doing — and keep their eye on tomorrow’s game.
“I need to keep them focused with it being homecoming and all,” the coach said.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Golden Peaks Stadium.