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The Pagosa Springs Pirates ended the 2013 football season against their traditional rivals, the Wolverines, in Bayfield last Friday, and though it was a hard-fought battle to the bitter end, the Wolverines earned the wildcard spot in the playoffs, walking away with a 15-13 victory.
“I am very proud of my players,” coach Scott Spoede affirmed. “The last few weeks have been hard and they came out this week focused and excited for this game. They understand the rivalry and what this means to our school and community.”
In fact, the Pirate defense started the game strong, holding the Wolverines scoreless during the first quarter. Things went a little haywire in the second quarter and they allowed 15 points, but the Pirate offense countered with six of its own.
In the second half, the Pirate defense shut the Wolverines down, holding them scoreless, while the Pirate offense launched a comeback, scoring seven more points in the fourth quarter and creating several other opportunities to score. They just couldn’t quite convert those efforts into points before time ran out.
Alonzo Hernandez was named player of the game on defense, with 16 tackles, including one quarterback sack.
Jeremiah Miller and David McRee each made 11 tackles, and McRee recovered one fumble. Caden Henderson had 10 tackles and Chase Patane and Tyler Manzanares each made nine. JC Parsons made seven tackles and brought down one pass interception.
Things also continued to improve on the offensive side of the game.
“We did rotate our quarterbacks in the first half,” Spoede explained, “but I felt in the second half that this was Dean Scott’s senior year and his team to lead on the field.”
It was one of Scott’s best games of the year, with three completions out of seven pass attempts for a total of 21 yards.
“I could not be more proud of him,” the coach said, “and of my whole host of seniors and how they led the team last Friday and throughout this season.”
Keenan Earley was named player of the game on offense, running 104 yards on 17 carries and scoring one touchdown. He also caught two of Scott’s passes for 10 yards.
Miller, who caught Scott’s other pass for a gain of 11, ran for 42 yards on 13 carries and scored the team’s other touchdown.
Besides Scott, Early and Miller, the Pirates say goodbye to the following seniors: Aaron Yazzie, David Anderson, Matt Visio, Logan Lebeau, Creede Wylie and Carter Walsh.
“Right after the handshakes,” Spoede relayed, “when we were all huddled in the middle of the field, it became very emotional to address the team and especially those seniors. Looking them in the eyes and thanking them for everything they have done and represented for the past four years, it gave me some fresh perspective of this great opportunity I have to coach these young men.”
On special teams, Walsh made three kickoffs for 53 yards and scored one extra point, while McRee had four punts for 118 yards. Marcos Quezada returned one punt for 17 yards and Connor Brown returned a kickoff for 5 yards.
“Looking on to next season,” the coach said, “we are going to sit down with our boys this week and address some things for next season. The main things we are going to say is keep encouraging each other to get better this off season, sign up for any and every sport that you can and sign up for coach (Dan) Janowsky’s strength and conditioning class.”
The Pirates ended the season ranked 30 in the state 2A division and sixth in the Western League, which wasn’t high enough to earn a spot in the post-season play, but was still an improvement over last year. With this new coaching staff, things should only continue to improve.
“As coaches,” Spoede concluded, “it wouldn’t be right to say who is going to be a key guy for us next season. This is a team sport, and our desire is to develop a team to play as a complete unit. With that, it’s always fun to see some players surprise you that you did not know had it in them and to see the talented ones finally realize their full potential.”