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With the NFL already into its preseason schedule and the first hints of fall coming into the mountains, football is in the air with the Pagosa Springs Pirates preparing for their first game of the new school year next Friday.
“We are definitely excited about this season,” coach Scott Spoede explained, mentioning the team’s scrimmage matches this week against Salida and Questa, N.M.
While the Pirates completed summer camp last month with 45 participants, the football program now has over 50 players, including 20 freshmen, nine sophomores, six juniors and 18 seniors. Seventeen varsity players are returning from last year.
“Practices have been going very well so far,” the coach commended. The team completed two-a-days last week and is down to one practice per day at this time.
By observing the players throughout the summer camp and the practices so far, the coaching staff determined Marcos Quezada has earned the number one quarterback spot, which he will take over from Dean Scott, who graduated last year. The coaches also moved David McRee and Chase Patane to create more depth on the offensive line.
“It’s hard to lose a player like Keenan Earley,” the coach lamented, “but we have a host of backs that I feel could make an impact for us.” Besides Early and Scott, the Pirates have also had to replace Creede Wylie, Matt Visio and Carter Walsh as both offensive and defensive linemen, as well as running back Jeremiah Miller.
“Lock Your Shields” is the theme Spoede is using this year to describe what he expects from his players. “The theme has one basic element,” he explained. “We have to identify ourselves as a team and be all in it together, or we will fail. Last year I talked about how I wanted our boys to have character and integrity, and that does not go away this year. Our coaches and myself still have this standard for our boys, but we wanted to put an emphasis on functioning as a team.”
For the first game of the season, the Pirates will welcome the Centauri Falcons to Golden Peaks Stadium on Aug. 29 at 7 p.m. They had our number last year,” the coach admitted, “and went on to play in the 1A State Championship game.”
On Sept. 5, the Pirates will have the home field advantage once again, hosting the Delta Panthers, who were in the 3A semi-finals last season.
“I am looking forward to these first two games,” Spoede said. “It could be a real gauge of where we are as a program.”
The Pirates then have two away games — against the Ignacio Bobcats on Sept. 12 and the Monte Vista Pirates on Sept. 19 — before beginning regular conference action. “Both programs seem to be doing some good things,” the coach conceded, “and look only to get better.”
The 2A Western Slope (South) League, of which the Pirates are a part, has undergone a number of changes since last year. Aspen, Basalt, Grand Valley and Coal Ridge have been removed while Alamosa and Montezuma-Cortez have been added.
“Our schedule this year doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of fluff to it,” Spoede warned. “I see our league as being very competitive. Gunnison and Olathe were one and two in our league last season and Bayfield is our rival.”
The Pirates will host the Alamosa Mean Moose on Sept. 26 before traveling to Cortez on Oct. 3 to face the Panthers. On Oct. 10, it will be Pirates versus Pirates as Pagosa hosts Olathe before finishing out the regular season with two away games — the first on Oct. 17 against the Gunnison Cowboys and the last on Oct. 24 against the Bayfield Wolverines.
“No matter how the season turns out for us,” the coach concluded, “that is a game everyone in the area should have circled on the calendar. When two rivals get together, you should never underestimate the intensity with which both sides are capable of playing.”