Click-clacking their cleats in near-military lockstep from the parking lot and into enemy territory, then uttering a unanimous, Marines-like "OOH-rah!" after each successfully-executed pre-game drill - it certainly appeared Pagosa Springs was prepared for battle last Friday.
Until "Operation Wolverine" blew up in their collective face.
The Wolverines left little doubt which crew was playing for a 2014 state playoffs berth, via a 29-2 rout of the Pirates.
Before the start of the game, there was a special salute for nine seniors playing their last home game.
They included injured center Blane Barnes, the only remaining offensive starter from Bayfield's Class 2A State Championship appearance in 2011; and wide receiver/defensive back Anthony Chamblee, son of Aaron, a member of BHS' 1996 2A State Champions.
Bayfield thwarted PSHS' opening drive with a third-down Zane Phelps sack of mercurial senior Marcos Quezada. Finishing third in the Western Slope Conference's South Division with a 3-2 record and improving to 5-4 overall, Bayfield was awarded the #9 seed in the postseason bracket.
The Wolverines are heading to Arvada today to face 8-seed Faith Christian at 1 p.m. tomorrow. The game will be broadcast on KPTE 92.9 of Durango (The Point.) Walter Dorman will announce the game.
Averaging 34 points per game and allowing just over 11, the Faith Christian Eagles finished 7-2 in the regular season, going 6-1 and taking second (behind Kent Denver) in the Colorado Conference.
And if there's any team hungrier than BHS it would be FC, which fell 28-19 at Kersey Platte Valley in last season's state championship game after authoritatively eliminating Aspen, GHS and Brush.
So how hungry were the Wolverines against the Pirates?
Enough to allow the elusive Quezada just two keepers for positive yardage before halftime, and also enough to stop Springs' second and third series of the first quarter with more outstanding work.
Following a seven-play, 48-yard drive, capped with a 12-yard touchdown run by junior Brody McGhehey (and point-after kick by junior Matias Karhumaki), senior Colter McMenimen deflected away a Quezada fourth-down pass and BHS' offense took over at their own 45 with 4:57 left in the quarter.
Five plays and only 92 seconds later, Chamblee sprinted 19 yards for Bayfield's second score and Karhumaki again was true with the PAT for a 14-0 advantage.
Pagosa Springs' next series began at their own 37, but after junior Tyler Cowan carried to the 49 and a subsequent personal-foul penalty against Bayfield quickly put the ball at BHS' 36, Quezada was buried by Wolverine junior Clyde Leonard for an eight-yard loss. And though a later Bayfield penalty put the Pirates just 27 yards from paydirt, the drive would end with McMenimen out-leaping a Pirate senior receiver Connor Brown for an interception at the three-yard line.
PSHS caught a break when big senior David McRee chased down BHS junior Kelton McCoy on third down for a sack (and two-point safety) in the end zone with 11:53 left in the second quarter. But that would be all the Pirates would get as Bayfield's defense forced a punt and two more turnovers-on-downs. That included a seven-yard Phelps sack of Quezada, back to the BHS 34-before the half expired.
Phelps then later carried for two second-half touchdowns to put the Pirates on ice until 2015. McGhehey nearly doubled his 42 first-half rushing yards and finished with a team-leading 83, and junior Taed Heydinger also snared an interception. The Wolverine defense totalled five sacks and three takeaways.
Tonight in other first-round playoffs action, 7-seed Montezuma-Cortez (7-2 overall) will host #10 Colorado Springs St. Mary's (7-2, 3-2 Tri-Peaks) at 7 p.m.
Fifth-seeded Gunnison (8-1) will host #12 Sterling (5-4, 3-2 Patriot) tomorrow at 1 p.m.
Should everything go as hoped in this weekend's action and next weekend's quarterfinals, Bayfield - which might have to also go through 1-seed Brush - and Gunnison would clash in the semis.