Last Saturday afternoon saw the return of an explosive Pagosa offense that had kept the team ranked in 2A top-10 polls all season as the Pirates blanked the Centauri Falcons 43-0, at La Jara.
“It was probably one of the most consistent games we’ve played all season,” said Pirate head coach Olin Garrison. “We played solid all the way through.”
“We attacked them, that’s for sure,” added assistant coach Ryan Davis. “We came at them and didn’t let up.”
That attack began with just over a minute into the game when, following a keeper by Clay Ross on a Centauri fumble, quarterback Tyson Ross connected on a 34-yard pass to wide receiver Daniel Puskas just 68 seconds into the game. The onslaught continued when, at 8:39 into the first, Tyson Ross pulled a quarterback sneak on the goal line for the Pirates’ second score. Pagosa cinched up a 21-0 lead in the first when Puskas took a 42-yard pass rush in with 4:26 left.
With a firm lead to bolster them, the Pirates took the intensity down a few notches, mostly keeping the ball on the ground and allowing Clay Ross to gain yardage for Pagosa.
“We’re moving him (Clay Ross) around and he’s producing. In the I-formation we have him at tailback or we’re moving him to tight end,” Garrison said.
Davis pointed to the 101 yards rushing and 93 yards receiving to say, “It was his best game all season.”
It was behind those ground yards that the Pirates finally scored, running a slant with under a minute left, giving Puskas a 5-yard reception for the touchdown and letting Pagosa leave the half with a 28-0 lead.
The Pirates mostly stayed on the ground in the second half as well. At 7:51 in the third, Clay Ross took the ball 16 yards up the middle to put Pagosa up 35-0. The Pirates finished up with seven minutes left in the game on an 8-yard pass to Puskas and, when an errant snap looked to kill the PAT, Puskas picked up the ball and ran it in for the two-point conversion.
Puskas racked up impressive numbers for the game, with three touchdowns, 146 receiving yards and three interceptions.
“He’s a great high school receiver,” Garrison said. “Hopefully, he’ll have one of those games again this Friday.”
Tyson Ross also finished with excellent numbers, logging 262 passing yards (for three touchdowns and a .654 completion percentage), 39 yards rushing (for one touchdown) and nine tackles.
If the Pirates can repeat the statistics tomorrow night, a playoff berth is assured.
Playing the game of the season tomorrow night, the Pirates travel to Bayfield to challenge their perennial league rivals, the 8-0 Wolverines, for the Mountain Conference crown. A win guarantees the Pirates a playoff berth, but a loss could put Pagosa into a three-way tie for second with the Alamosa Mean Moose and the Buena Vista Demons.
If the Mean Moose defeat the Falcons and Buena Vista defeats the Salida Spartans — both expected outcomes this weekend — the Demons have the edge for second place in the Mountain Conference due to their Oct. 7 28-14 defeat of the Pirates in Buena Vista.
Davis said, “If we beat Bayfield, it takes care of everything for us.”
With no love lost between the Wolverines and the Pirates, tomorrow night’s game will be hard fought and most likely not without some flared tempers. That both teams know their post-season aspirations are on the table should only add to the intensity of emotion.
“We need to play four quarters of solid football,” Garrison said, “no mistakes, no penalties.”
Aware of Bayfield’s intimidating ground game behind a triple option, Garrison said that his team needs to step up on defense, but also has to exhibit the explosive offense against a defense that has allowed just 7.5 points per game.
“We need to slow down their running game, but we also need to score some points,” Garrison said regarding tomorrow night’s match.
Holding the No. 8 spot in both Colorado Preps and Denver Post Preps rankings, Pagosa should still finish with enough wildcard points to secure a post-season spot no matter the outcome of tomorrow night’s game.
Obviously, a win tomorrow night would be preferred, garnering the Pirates not just a conference crown but (more importantly), a top seed and home field advantage.
As well as all that’s on the line following tomorrow night’s 6 p.m. kickoff in Bayfield’s Wolverine Country Stadium, the Pirates also have a score to settle — the Wolverines have not lost to Pagosa since 2008.
“We’re going to attack them and not let up,” Davis said regarding tomorrow night’s season finish. “There isn’t one kid on this team who thinks we can’t win.”