There was a mercy rule.
And even Bayfield's freshmen saw action during their first varsity game of 2014.
But that wasn't enough to stop a brutal Bayfield offense and defense during their season opener last Friday night against Kirtland Central of New Mexico.
One disrupted drive summed things up:
The Colorado High School Activity Association's mercy-rule was already engaged, due to Bayfield junior Zane Phelps' second rushing touchdown barely a minute earlier. Denied a kickoff return score by senior Colter McMenimen's spectacular ankle tackle, the Broncos' apparent final series ended on its third play when senior running back Jacob Belin was blasted by Phelps in the backfield not once, but twice.
As the play progressed backwards, the second pop jarred the ball free. Senior BHS nose tackle Zane Westbrook smothered the ball at the KC 15. The play had started at the BHS 48, and this was only the second (and final) time the visitors managed to see the Wolverines' side of midfield in a 48-6 loss.
"The team with the most heart came out in the second half and kept battling!" said BHS junior Brody McGhehey. "You know, they could have easily came back on us-like last year against Olathe-but we just held on.we kept fighting."
"All the way through," added junior Kelton McCoy. "Even our JV guys did a good job!"
The JV played a good part of the second half, led by sophomore quarterback Josh Westbrook, McCoy's understudy. At the end of the game, they were unable to punch through for one last touchdown on offense, giving the guests a surprise possession with 2:15 left. But the second-stringers sent the Wolverine Country Stadium rowdies home happy when junior Frankie Turner intercepted Jacob Flack three snaps later as time expired.
"Oh it's great, you know," McGhehey said, "knowing that you have a solid defense behind your offense to help make the plays."
Head Coach Gary Heide was pleased with his team's progress from last year.
"All year long I knew we had kids that really worked hard.kids that were going to be a lot more mature, because we had a young team last year," Heide said. "I knew that we had skill.but you never know how evident it's going to be and how it's going to be displayed on the field. Tonight it was displayed, so that's what I'm happiest about."
Catching his own deflected pass on the season-opener's third play of the game, Flack (4-of-11, 30 yds.) learned firsthand the fury with which the Wolverines would play through four dominant quarters. Two plays later Bayfield was in business at the KC 9 after blocking their punt. McGhehey then quickly carried over the goalline from five yards out, ending a two-play 'drive' with 9:25 left in the first quarter. McCoy's ensuing two-point pass was incomplete, but the Wolverines would rapidly re-hit paydirt after senior Anthony Chamblee returned a Wyatt punt back to the Bronco 15 with 8:12 remaining.
Three plays later, and with 7:05 still left, McGhehey was again in the end zone after a 10-yard run, and McCoy hit junior Taed Heydinger (4 rec., 53 yds., TD) for the conversion and 14-0 advantage.
"We wanted to come out with some intensity and really smash 'em in the mouth right off the bat," said McCoy (7-of-12, 72 yds., 2 TD). "And we thought that would roll into our offense; our defense came up big early-the big punt block really got us rolling-and then it was just.sky's the limit from there!"
Central showed a pulse after McMenimen's kickoff was returned to the KC 24. Junior Keishaun Aspaas took a first-down option pitch 76 yards around right end for six points, 6:50 still left, but the point-after kick failed and Bayfield made the Broncos pay.
Starting from their own 39 after Kirtland kicked off, BHS covered the required 61 yards in nine plays, the last being a six-yard McCoy-to-Heydinger hookup with 3:15 still to go. McCoy then put up two more points with a slick shovel-pass to Phelps, who was only getting started.
KCHS went 3-and-out on their last series of the first, and Phelps then finished the Wolverines' subsequent 7-play, 69-yard surge with a two-yard TD, 10:20 left in the second, then tacked on the PAT for an insurmountable 29-6 lead at the half which would only grow.
Phelps finished with 139 yards on 29 carries, and also scored BHS' last six-pointer on a one-yard plunge with 10:07 remaining in the fourth (then booted the PAT, making him 2-of-4 in that category). He also was 1-of-1 passing, hitting McGhehey for 18 yards late in the first half immediately prior to a McCoy toss off Heydinger's shoulder pad in the end zone as the clock zeroed out.
"We went into the locker room at halftime saying 'Do NOT quit,'" McCoy said. "And we were saying 'Keep the foot down on the pedal,' and that's what we did."
McGhehey finished with 56 yards on ten carries, Chamblee 36 on four and McCoy 16 on six (with a 6-yard TD, 4:20 left in the third) to lead the Bayfield ground force.
"We just had to run it up the gut, run it outside," said McGhehey. "Our passing game wasn't bad, but our running game was where it was at.stellar."
"It worked out well," McCoy said. "Brody ran the ball very well, Zane ran hard like he always does, but our credit goes to the O-line. They worked their tails off."
Added Heide: "These young men, with the heart they've shown.I've got to hand it to them. It's them who worked so hard this summer and got that confidence. It's them that's been in the weight room and have basically gotten bigger and stronger and faster, so hats off to them! Now we've got to take this game for what it is-it's a building block-and proceed from there."
Up next, BHS hits the road to face 4A Shiprock, N.M., tonight at 7 p.m. The Chieftains will go in 0-2 overall after lopsided in-state, non-district letdowns against 5A Gallup and at 4A Silver.
"We've got a long way to go. I mean, we've got a real tough schedule," Heide said, "and I don't want to get overconfident. I think we.what we could be, we're not there yet."