After getting off to a 2-4 start to the season, Bayfield High School head football coach Gary Heide is still full of optimism. With three league games to play, Heide understands how valuable Friday’s matchup against Montezuma-Cortez will be.
“We know that we’re in the deepest and most important part of our season,” Heide said. “We lost four games and taken a beating on two or three of them. We really feel, ‘Wow, we’re in this position after that?’ To be able to get a league win and still be undefeated in league, that’s really exciting for us. As a team, we’ve been questioning and have been down a little bit. After those four losses, we really want to take advantage of it.”
The Wolverines (2-4, 1-0 2A Intermountain League) will enter Friday’s matchup against Cortez (1-5, 0-2 IML) with something to prove on the defensive side of the ball after a 68-19 shellacking last week against Farmington.
“I think, defensively, we’re trying to be simple,” Heide said. “We’re trying make sure that whatever strategy, blitzes or packages we bring out on the field, everybody understands that. We want to know our responsibilities and not be too extravagant.”
Cortez is led by junior quarterback Ty Blackmer, who has thrown for 688 yards and two touchdowns but has been intercepted 18 times on the year. Jacob Schuster leads the Panthers with 209 yards rushing on 26 carries, while Isaiah Cordova has 68 yards on 25 carries.
Junior wide receiver Korie Likes has caught 15 passes for 200 yards and has the only two TD receptions on the year.
Chris Matimba is the anchor of the Panthers’ defense, as he has made 34 tackles, and junior Kyler Krob has made 32 tackles on the season. The Panthers have forced eight turnovers, as Matimba has intercepted two passes while Noah Harris has caused two fumbles.
“They’re in a similar spot as us,” Heide said. “Whatever their record is, they can be a threat. I know they’re going to play hard. We can still win some games this year, but this is going to be a key game for both teams that are searching for a win.”
BHS will look to continue to find its groove on offense, as sophomore quarterback Isaac Ross threw for two TD passes last week against the Scorpions, while the Wolverines also got Dillon Vroman and Cade Carlson back from injury.
Cael Schaefer has been a force as of late, and despite being kept off of the scoreboard last week, he scored four touchdowns against Alamosa two weeks ago. He still is the Wolverines’ leading rusher with 467 yards on 88 carries and has scored seven times. Carlson will look to be productive, as he has rushed for 229 yards on 45 carries.
“We want to be creative on offense again,” Heide said. “We just got to the start of it last week and the week before against Alamosa. I really feel that we’ve needed to make a few adjustments here and there, and we have. We can be way more effective. We know what we’re supposed to do, and the execution of all 11 players executing at once will hopefully start to get better. Hopefully, it’s not too late.
“With only three games to go, every league victory is really important to both teams. I think if we can execute, we can come out on the right end of it this time.”