The high school football teams from Bayfield and Durango have delivered a pair of classic games since the rivalry was renewed in 2016 after an 80-year hiatus. Friday night's matchup promises to deliver more fireworks.
It's been a week short of a year since Bayfield beat Durango 20-13 at home inside Wolverine Country Stadium for the team's first-ever varsity win against the Demons. When the two teams met in 2016 at DHS, it was the Demons who secured a 14-6 overtime victory.
The two teams have changed a lot since last year's matchup. The defending Class 2A state champion Wolverines (3-0), led by seventh-year head coach Gary Heide, will enter the game as the top-ranked team in their classification, while Durango (1-2) is ranked No. 10 in Class 3A despite consecutive losses.
"It's going to be a very tough matchup," Bayfield senior Keyon Prior said. "All respect to Durango, they've got great athletes over there. Jordan Woolverton is a great, poised quarterback for as young as he is. We respect Durango and the receivers. (Defensive coordinator Mike Wnorowski) is setting us up in the right positions, and we're confident in the matchup."
While Durango, led by sixth-year head coach David Vogt, has dropped two in a row, the losses have come against elite opponents in Class 3A No. 3 Palisade and Class 4A No. 7 Montrose.
"We've gone through a lot," DHS senior Dawson Marcum said. "I think we have done pretty well this week after those two tough losses. Coming back against Bayfield, it's a great game for a rebound. It's definitely a tough matchup, a good game and we're excited for it."
Here's a closer look at how the two teams match up, with The Vallecito Bowl trophy on the line at 7 p.m. Friday at DHS:
QuarterbacksBayfield senior Hayden Farmer and Durango sophomore Jordan Woolverton will be behind center for their teams Friday night.
Farmer led the Wolverines to a state title a year ago and threw the winning touchdown against Durango in the final minutes of last year's game. Farmer passed for 2,090 yards, a school record 35 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions last season. This year, Farmer has 404 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions in three games. Last week, Farmer was frustrated by the Aspen defense and dropped passes from his receivers. He threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Aspen, but he's ready to bounce back in a big way Friday.
"From the beginning of the year, we knew we'd play Durango again and it was gonna be at their house," Farmer said. "You gotta win. Rivalry games are about winning and pride. To win at their house is what we need as a team."
Woolverton played a bit against Bayfield a year ago but didn't become the team's starter until later in the season. Now a sophomore, the talented passer has totaled 560 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions this season. Woolverton has done it while he has completed 61 percent of his passes.
"Jordan is a great quarterback, probably gonna go Division I someday," Farmer said of his adversary.
Woolverton has been strong throwing on the run and from the pocket. He connected on two deep passes last week to Alex Hise and has shown an ability to throw to his third and fourth options while making reads down the field.
He will need plenty of time to throw against a Bayfield defense that has 15 sacks this season, and designed bootleg passes will certainly be in store for the Demons' offense.
Woolverton still remembers the 2016 game. He was in eighth-grade, while his older brother, Peyton, threw the game-winning touchdown for Durango in overtime.
"I've been thinking about that game lately with my brother playing in that and how happy he was playing in that game," Woolverton said. "I'm so happy to get Bayfield at home this year, and I want that feeling."
Running backsDurango's defense will key in on BHS senior running back David Hawkins. The Division I linebacker prospect has rushed for 434 yards on 60 carries this season. He has four rushing touchdowns, and he gashed Aspen for more than 200 yards last week.
Hawkins was in attendance when Montrose beat Durango 41-36 last week behind more than 220 rushing yards from big Montrose running back Chris Eckerman. At 6-foot-3, 225-pounds, Hawkins is a load to bring down. Marcum said the defense's top priority is to tackle Hawkins low and not let him fight forward for extra yards.
"I saw that, and we look for any weaknesses we can," Hawkins said. "That was shown (last week), and we're gonna try to expose that as much as we can."
Hawkins is also a key member of the BHS defense at linebacker. He will need breaks, and that is when Bayfield junior Dylan Hilliker and Prior will need to take over. Hilliker has 191 yards and two touchdowns on only 18 carries this season, while Prior has 1,214 yards and another two rushing touchdowns. Hilliker and Prior are also two of Bayfield's top threats in the passing game.
DHS has been paced by the 373 yards and four touchdowns from Marcum. He also had a big game running against Montrose and broke a 99-yard touchdown run Week 1 in a win at Pagosa Springs.
"Dawson Marcum is more of a threat this year than I've seen the last couple of years," Farmer said.
Marcum is spelled by bruising back Everett Howland, and the two have confidence they can run the ball against Bayfield despite the Wolverines' famed run defense that forces even running teams into passing.
"They're a well-coached team," Marcum said. "We have a tough schedule, but Bayfield is one of the toughest teams we play. I think we do match up well with this group."
Defense and special teamsBayfield has an edge in defense, but Durango has an advantage when it comes to kicking.
The Wolverines, led by Wnorowski's coaching, have boasted one of the best defenses in the state over the last four years. The team had eight shutouts a year ago and set the state record for team sacks. With 15 sacks already this year, the Wolverines could threaten that record, though only eight regular season games might prevent that.
Through three games, BHS has allowed only 21 points, though only 13 of those have been by the defense. Meanwhile, Durango has allowed 67 points.
Bayfield had a few injury scares last week with Prior and lineman Daniel Westbrook going down, but both are expected to play Friday. Prior is one of the top cornerbacks in Class 2A, while Westbrook has three sacks this year. Isaac Lorenzen, a potent nose tackle, has six sacks for the Wolverines to lead the charge. Hawkins leads the team with 37 tackles, including two sacks. The Wolverines also have forced seven interceptions, led by two each from Farmer and Prior, as well as three fumbles.
"They're real good," Woolverton said of the BHS defense. "They're just as good as last year, and that's fun to play against. We scrimmaged them, and that was a good eye-opener about what we needed to do to get ready to face them."
Hise and Marcum form a solid defensive back for the Demons. Marcum has led the team in tackles along with Howland, while linebacker Gus Kidd has been an enforcer. Savion Jones-Embry is a hard hitter who has also forced and recovered a fumble for the Demons this season.
Kicking for Durango is Gage Mestas and Woolverton. Bayfield has Westbrook on kickoff duty and Max Mcghehey on extra points. The Wolverines likely won't try any field goals, while Mestas and Woolverton have shown they can make kicks.
"I think this game could go either way," Woolverton said. "It could be high scoring because both offenses are stacked, but both defense can put in work on the other side of the ball and get stops. So, I feel like it could go either way."