Looking ahead to his team's Aug. 31 trip to Blanding, Utah, Gary Heide exhorted his Bayfield bunch to "go in there with the same chip on your shoulder" as they did on the 24th entering Farmington's Hutchison Stadium.
He won't need to remind David Hawkins.
The 225-pound senior will suit up against the San Juan Broncos with not only the proverbial "chip" on his shoulder, but also tangible chips of Farmington backup quarterback Vince Castelli's helmet in his duffel bag from a vicious fourth-quarter collision, rendering the 190-pound Scorpion unable to finish what ended up being the final drive of a 54-13 mercy-rule blowout.
"I love seeing tackles like that - just hypes everyone up and helps us play better, you know?" said senior Daniel Westbrook, one end of a defensive line which pressured Castelli and starter Ian Kee from the outset. Castelli re-entered the game only to throw an incompletion and then take a nine-yard sack from Shane Moore, before completing two of five final passes ending a 9-minute, 12-second running-clock possession.
"In our scrimmage last week, we got our butts handed to us, and Coach 'Ski...every day of the week: 'Righteous anger!' 'Righteous anger!' 'Come out with righteous anger,'" senior Keyon Prior recalled, referring to defensive coordinator Mike Wnorowski. "Defense is where it all starts. That's our bread-and-butter."
And though FHS managed - quite incredibly - to unofficially gain over 220 yards passing, when BHS needed a boost, it turned to its defense.
Following an impressive, unreturned 54-yard Prior punt, the Scorpions began their season-opening series at their own 16-yard line with 10:32 left in the first quarter. Three plays later, the Wolverines (1-0, 0-0 2A Intermountain) were on the scoreboard; Hawkins read Kee's short toss from the 19, snared it at about the 22, and strolled into the end zone for the icebreaking six points.
Senior Max McGhehey's point-after kick was blocked, but he would have more opportunities.
Farmington (0-1, 0-0 NMAA Dist. 1-5A) then went three-and-out, and after a Lucas punt, Bayfield took over at their own 26 with 7:56 left. Helped by an obvious pass-interference penalty against FHS, BHS finished the 74-yard march with a 15-yard Prior carry around right end.
Hawkins plowed in the 2-point conversion, putting the guests up 14-0 with 5:55 left. Fifty-nine seconds later, Farmington got on the board, but with Westbrook breaking through, Lucas' PAT was blocked. The Wolverines' ensuing series ended with a 30-yard Prior punt, pinning the home team at its own 12.
Westbrook and senior Isaac Lorenzen then flattened Kee at the 4 on first down. The Scorpions managed to pass their way out of immediate danger, but their promising drive died when Prior picked off Kee and dashed - like Hawkins, untouched - about 40 yards to score with 57.2 seconds remaining.
Senior quarterback Hayden Farmer's conversion carry was stopped short, but FHS was already in trouble and down 20-6 as the first quarter expired. Another Prior interception midway through the second quarter set the Wolverines up at the Farmington 44 with 5:45 left before halftime, and Bayfield needed just 52 seconds to capitalize via a 45-yard toss from Farmer to wide-open junior James Mottin.
Prior's follow-up option pass failed to post another two points, but the writing was already on the wall for Farmington, and became all the more clear when BHS junior Dylan Hilliker intercepted Castelli with 1:43 left and Farmer did likewise with 0:24 left.
"Whenever we jump on one," said Hilliker, asked about the numerous takeaways' impact, "it gives us a little excitement for the next play, the next drive, so we can go pound it in again!"
FHS head coach Jeff Dalton wisely elected to slow the pace beginning the third quarter, and called about the three most basic, and effective, plays a coach could: Quarterback draw right, quarterback draw middle, quarterback draw left.
And the simplicity appeared quite sage; Castelli gained 21 yards on his three keepers, and Johnny Shuttleworth then picked up another three out to the Scorpion 46. But a five-yard penalty disrupted the building momentum, and Wolverine defensive end Rhett Hoover then shattered it, throwing Castelli for an eight-yard loss.
"I just read my (FHS) lineman," Hoover explained. "He was pushing me out, so I did what Coach Frank (Hawkins) teaches us, and went inside."
Lucas managed to boom an unreturned 42-yard punt to the Bayfield 25, but after Hawkins carried for three yards, Hilliker took a give from Farmer and flew 72 yards around left end, and along the Farmington sideline, for what was essentially the victory-clinching touchdown with 7:50 left in the third.
"I saw the hole, then saw the outside edge that wasn't taken care of by their corner," Hilliker said, "and I just zipped ahead! It felt great; I felt like I was in 'my' zone.like I was at home again."
"Oh, it's amazing when we can get a stop like that, get the ball back and put it into our offense's hands to put more points up on the board. That's just huge," said Prior. "And everyone on the field tonight did a great job."
Farmer (unoffially 6-of-14, 145 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT) connected with Mottin (2-61 receiving) for a 16-yard score with 3:37 left. Prior took a toss right for 29 yards and another TD with 1:35 left, and McGhehey drilled the extra point after each as the Wolverines cruised into the fourth, leading 47-13.
Having ended the third with a nine-yard carry from the BHS 40, Hawkins (16-70 rushing) capped Bayfield's final push of the night with a one-yard plunge and 9:28 left. McGhehey missed the point-after kick, but a penalty against Farmington allowed him to convert a second chance.
"I feel starting off with that, it's going to be a great season," said Hilliker (6-90 rushing), looking ahead to visiting Blanding. "With this team, it's about trusting the process; I did, and everybody else did. When we come together like that, big plays happen."
"Everyone has doubts about a new season, the people that we lose," he continued. "But when we come out here with one single goal, we have that 'Wolverine Pride' and nothing changes."
Prior finished with 64 yards rushing on just six carries, and gained 46 more on three receptions.
In defeat, Kee unofficially finished with 147 yards passing on 12-of-24 accuracy while Castelli was 3-of-11 for 79. Lucas grabbed six catches for 117 yards and Medrano four for 87.
Bayfield faces a San Juan squad already standing 1-1 overall (0-0 UHSAA 2A-South) after a dominant 47-0 road rout of county rival Monticello (1-1, 0-0 1A-South).
"They're going to be good, and we're going to have to come out and work hard," Hoover said.
"I don't want to go into that game cocky, like Coach (Heide) said," agreed Westbrook. "It's honestly a help to know you've just got to do your job and everyone else is going to do theirs."
CHSAANOW.COM CLASS 2A FOOTBALL RANKINGS (released 8/27): 1.BAYFIELD, 2.La Junta, 3.Kersey Platte Valley, 4.Englewood Kent Denver, 5.Arvada Faith Christian, 6.Loveland Resurrection Christian, 7.Rifle, 8.Basalt, 9.Colorado Springs The Classical Academy, 10.Bennett.