Opening football night at the newly revamped Ignacio High School stadium unfortunately did not include a win for the Bobcats.
But the Bobcats did push the state-champion Paonia Eagles until the end, forcing PHS to dance until the proverbial piper was paid.
The Bobcats denied Paonia a shutout by stretching an Adison Jones pass into a 53-yard score with 5:03 left in the third quarter. Returning football player Anthony Manzanares' speed showed throughout the game.
"It felt good for me because I haven't been out here in.three years, probably?" said Anthony Manzanares, most familiar to fans as a Bobcat Basketball guard (or IHS Baseball infielder). "It just felt really good."
"You know, it's been a really hard week for us, training for this game," he added. "And it felt good to have those turnovers and to have those points."
Following Manzanares' long catch-and-run, fellow hoopster/wide receiver/defensive back Wyatt Hayes ended the Eagles' ensuing drive on its second down with a fumble recovery at the PHS 47.
An all-pass Ignacio push was necessitated by the mercy-rule running clock (enacted with 8:47 left in the second quarter.) It died within the Paonia 15. But Bobcat reserve DB Chase Sanchez pounced on a second-down fumble at the Eagles' 8, setting up Jones' scoring carry four plays later-and just a short-lived 4:03 remaining in the contest.
"At halftime I told 'em, 'We're playing for pride now,'" head coach Lupe Huerta said. "You know? 'I want to see what you're made of! Are you going to fold or you going to fight?' And we did. You don't want it to end like this, but I knew these guys (Paonia) were very, very good."
Indead, the Eagles onslaught left them 20-0 with 5:14 still left in the first quarter.
Starting for IHS on their own 21, quarterback Adison Jones moved IHS forward to the Paonia 48 before being sacked back to the Ignacio 45 two snaps later, and the drive ended with Paonia fielding a Hayes punt and motoring 77 yards to paydirt with 1:45 left. A PAT boosted the Eagles (2-0, 0-0 1A Western Slope) to a 27-point lead before Hayes' next boot brought the first quarter to a welcome close.
"We were excited, but we came out a little nervous.a little jittery," said Manzanares. "Hesitations got hold of us, but they're a good team, you know? And.we realized we had to fight hard!"
Paonia put the game out of reach three plays into the second quarter, sprinting the last 54 of a three-play, 60-yard drive and scoring with 10:24 before halftime.
"Didn't expect anything less from those guys," Huerta said. "We did some good things. It's just that a lot of the things that happened-missed assignments, kids going the wrong direction, having some new kids in there-was a little tough. But I'm proud.they have NOT given up. Sometimes they're just outmanned."
Manzanares caught two balls for 64 yards in all. Senior Blaine Mickey caught three for 30, and classmate Mike Perez two for 21. Sophomore Stocker Robbins nabbed two for 12, junior Timmy Plehinger caught two for 16, and Hayes one for 29.
IHS' ground game, however, gained just one yard on 13 tries-Paonia amassed nearly 240 on 20. Up next, the 'Cats host Pagosa Springs (0-2, 0-0 2A Western Slope-South) tonight at 7 p.m. for homecoming.
The Ignacio Volleycats play Ridgway at home tomorrow at 11 a.m. IHS is hosting games at the middle school gym while theirs is being renovated.