How to follow up a historic, State Championship-winning football season?
Construct the toughest possible schedule, and try to do it all again.
Once more that seems to be the mindset at Bayfield High School, with seventh-year coach Gary Heide and his staff eyeing a 2018 slate heavy on road trips, and potentially weightier in terms of opponents. The Wolverines' schedule begins with an Aug. 24 trip to Farmington and ends Oct. 26 with a long haul east to conference addition Salida. BHS (13-0, 5-0 Intermountain in '17) will play five of nine contests away from Wolverine Country Stadium, and will battle six opponents who qualified for postseason play last fall.
No doubt eager to have the first shot at toppling Colorado's reigning Class 2A kings, FHS will welcome the Wolverines into Hutchison Stadium ready to build off a 2017 which saw the Scorpions go 5-0 in NMAA District 1-5A action and finish 8-4 overall after a loss in the State semifinals to perennial powerhouse Artesia.
The first of an incredible eight foes Bayfield kept off the scoreboard last season San Juan High School of Blanding, Utah will then host the Wolverines for a 7 p.m. start on Aug. 31. Still adjusting to life after longtime boss Monty Lee's retirement in late 2016, the Broncos (4-7 overall, 2-3 Region 2A-South) still managed to qualify for the UHSAA State Playoffs and earned an opening Round-of-12 win over Coalville North Summit before, like Farmington, succumbing to an eventual State Champion (Kamas South Summit, in this case) squad.
Able to outgun Granby Middle Park in an 80-50 shootout beginning 2017, Aspen will visit Bayfield for a 1 p.m. kickoff on Sept. 8. Aspen finished a second-place 4-1 in the 2A Western Slope last year, but a strong 8-2 overall after a Round-of-16 loss to Colorado Springs The Classical Academy.
And if none of those challengers give Bayfield a true indication of how they stack up, Week 4's opponent likely will. Having trailed only Pueblo East in the 3A South Central, Durango finished 4-1 in conference and 8-4 overall after earning a Class 3A Round-of-16 win at Canon City and then losing in the quarterfinals to Erie.
Normally an end-of-year enemy, Alamosa will be BHS' first Intermountain test in 2018 when the Mean Moose (5-4, 2-3 in 2017) come to town for a 7 p.m. start on Sept. 28.
Gunnison (0-9, 0-5) will then visit on Oct. 5, with Montezuma-Cortez (2-6, 1-4) doing likewise on Oct. 12, before the Wolverines invade Golden Peaks Stadium on Oct. 19 to clash with Pagosa Springs (6-4, 4-1), which reached last year's Playoffs but promptly fell to La Junta.
Finally, Matt Luttrell and Salida High School will host Bayfield (the teams last met in 2011 as 2A Mountain members, with the Wolverines prevailing 49-0 on the road) coming off last year's 3-2 showing in the 2A Tri-Peaks, and 7-3 overall result after a Round-of-16 loss to Western Slope rulers Basalt.
Overall, BHS' 2018 opponents were an aggregate 48-43 overall in 2017, a .527 winning percentage.