Despite suffering their third defeat of the season, the Pagosa Springs Pirates played a much better football game in Aspen last Friday, according to head coach Olin Garrison.
The Pirates were able to score 14 points and held the Skiers to 21 points, a vast improvement over the previous two games.
“I am pleased with how they are coming together as a team,” Garrison said. “They have a lot more intensity and competitiveness. They are doing a much better job of encouraging each other.”
Assistant coach Ryan Davis said, “It was a very good game — very competitive.”
The Pirates received the opening kickoff and proceeded to drive the ball 80 yards for a touchdown.
The Pirates jumped ahead with a 14-0 lead and were well on their way to dominating the game, but on the kickoff after their second touchdown, they were unable to contain the runner, who brought it all the way back for Aspen’s first touchdown.
“That put them back in the game,” Garrison explained. “That gave them their enthusiasm back.”
The Pirates scored six points in the first quarter while holding the Skiers scoreless, then had eight points in the second quarter, but allowed the Skiers to score seven. After the halftime break, the Pirates couldn’t get it back together and went scoreless through the third and fourth quarters, while the Skiers scored 14 more points during the third quarter.
Quarterback Dean Scott had a much improved game, with five completions out of 12 throws for 88 yards, according to Davis. “Unfortunately, he had a fumble on the ten-yard line that was very costly right before the half. We were going in to score again.”
Senior Clay Ross had 126 total rushing yards and 18 carries. Sophomore Tate Drane was the best pass receiver of the game with 46 yards.
“Turnovers are still killing us,” Garrison said. “We had four fumbles and two of those they were able to score off of. We are playing much better, but we have to get our mistakes under control.”
This week, the defense and special teams will be working on wrapping up the ball carrier when they tackle him.
“It is important to get him contained and keep him from making extra yardage after the hit,” Garrison said.
“The defense played well,” Davis said. “It was 14-7 at halftime, but 14-0 up until five minutes left in the half. We were winning all the way up until the third quarter, and then they scored 14 unanswered points. Then it went into a defensive battle in the fourth quarter. Nobody scored.”
Senior Slade Wylie, who was unable to play the previous two games, led the defense with eight tackles and four assists.
Now the team is looking forward to this week’s homecoming game against Basalt.
“They have also struggled with making costly mistakes, but they are a solid football team,” Garrison explained. “It is going to be a good game and we hope we get a big crowd coming out for it.”
The Longhorns won their first game against Paonia, then lost by a narrow margin against Roaring Fork two weeks ago. Basalt got creamed 42-0 by Bayfield last week.
However, Davis said, “Their first game or two they didn’t look too great, but watching them on film for their third game they looked like a much better organized team and executed their offense better, so it will be a good test for us. We will need as much of the town’s support as possible.”