Rising over Wolverine Country Stadium’s east bleachers, a full moon certainly brought out the beast in Bayfield High School soccer team’s players for their regular-season home finale Monday night.
Unfortunately for the were-Wolverines, an equalizing 24th-minute goal by senior Callum Marshall wasn’t enough to tame the visiting Montezuma-Cortez Panthers, just as eager to feast upon their foe.
“Cortez had a hell of a game,” Marshall admitted, following a 4-1 loss, “but we played our game. We had a nice goal, had some good breakaways. Could have been better, but we got one in and it was a nice game overall.
“I feel like we turned it up,” he continued. “There’s something special about the ‘Friday Night Lights’ even though it’s a Monday. There’s just something special about it. The sun sets, you’re a little bit cold, all of your nerves are a bit jittery, especially when it’s your last home game, you know?”
“Coming out here, it was a night game and it being senior night, I wanted to do my best and just trust my team,” said senior captain Weslee Blakeslee. “I just loved the intensity. Last game here, so it’s a little bittersweet taking in memories of all the games. I think I’ll play a total of 61 for Bayfield High School, and just appreciating all the support I’ve had throughout the years.”
Fortunately for Blakeslee, Marshall, classmate Larenz Wilbourn and the rest of the Wolverines (0-13, 0-11 3A/2A Southwestern), there’s still much supporting to be done. BHS travels to Bloomfield for 11 a.m. kickoff on Saturday.
Standing at 9-7 and 3-3 in NMAA District 1-4A play, a vast improvement over last fall’s 5-13-1 mark, the Bobcats are slated to collide with Gallup Friday afternoon before returning to host Bayfield.
Sophomore Cesar Ramirez is far and away Bloomfield’s top gun with 23 goals reported to date, including two against MHS. Classmate Jesus Jaquez is also closing in on double-digit scoring, helping take pressure off the goalkeeping tandem of John Michael Horton and Orrin Chapman, who have logged similar minutes in net.
After facing the ’Cats, BHS will then regroup for a season-ending trip to, and 12 p.m. kickoff against, Alamosa next Saturday, Oct. 26. Currently tops amongst the SWL’s 3A teams, the Mean Moose (4-9, 4-6 SWL) will have been idle from competition for nearly two weeks prior to hosting M-CHS on the 25th.
“We get better every game, we improve, and just give me that intensity these next two games,” said Blakeslee. “Keep that mindset of ‘Let’s keep pressing. Let’s keep fighting.’ No matter what happens, trust in one another, and just remember all the basic stuff we’ve been working on all season.
“We changed formation on the fly towards the end there and kind of held it down,” he noted, alluding to the Wolverines’ last 15 minutes against the Panthers. “It’ll be fun to come out at Bloomfield swinging.”
Marshall’s mentality, one probably shared by the entire roster, was particularly blunt in tone.
“Alamosa and Bloomfield – I’m not going to roll over and die for them. I’m not going to have them give me a ladder straight into my grave; I’m going to fight my fight,” he declared. “I’m not done with this yet!”
ONE FOR THE ROADIf Marshall’s strike against Montezuma-Cortez, set up by a long Aimar Ozcariz-Frances pass and ending a third full-speed sprint up the right wing, ends up being his final prep-level tally, it’s a finish he’ll never forget.
“This will be my 59th game with the Wolverines, and couldn’t have asked for a better game, win or lose,” he said. “We fought for each other, fought our fight.
“I just remember the ball being out in front of me, looking down, then looking up and It seems the world, like, almost freezes; it’s just something with your brain. But I just took a real deep breath, swung my foot straight through it.
“I thought that it was going to the moon like my second shot, to be honest,” he continued. “I was so glad to see it slowly creep back-post. There’s no other feeling like it.”