Football team eyes two crucial league games

Despite a 42-26 non-conference loss last Friday to Class 3A Delta High School, the Pagosa Springs Pirates are still holding out hopes to win at home this week against Mountain League opponent Centauri, then secure a win over Bayfield’s Wolverines on Oct. 31 at Golden Peaks Stadium that could secure a playoff berth.

Wins over both Centauri and Bayfield would give the Pirates a 4-1 Mountain League record and a shot at the first round of the state Class 2A playoffs.

Last Friday, Delta took the opening kickoff at Golden Peaks Stadium and drove 64 yards for a touchdown, managing five first downs in the process. The point-after kick was good and Delta led 7-0. They kept a lead throughout the remainder of the game.

The next time Delta had the ball, a pass by quarterback Cory Hilborne was intercepted by Pirate Cody Bowdridge, who ran 73 yards down the right sideline for a Pirate touchdown. A two-point pass attempt failed and Pagosa trailed 7-6.

There were no further scores by the Pirates in the first half. At halftime Delta had a 14-6 lead, with 15 first downs.

In the second half, the visiting team continued to rack up more yardage, but the Pirates did their part, scoring three touchdowns. Tyson Ross ran back a kickoff 83 yards to score and stir up the Pirate fans. Quarterback Taylor Shaffer broke loose near midfield and ran 58 yards to score another Pirate touchdown.

After the Shaffer touchdown, the Pirate quarterback completed a toss to Paul Hoffman for two points.

But the Pirates were unable to catch the visitors from Delta, who scored in both the third and fourth quarters.

Tackling leaders for the Pirates were: Steven Melendy (12), Sackett Ross (12), Tyson Ross (9), Mike Smith (8), and Zach Lucero (8).

The Pirate passing attack, led by quarterback Shaffer, was good for six completions in 14 attempts, gaining 72 yards.

Rushing for the Pirates was led by Mike Smith with five runs and 59 yards gained. Steve Smith, who filled in for an injured Joe DuCharme, gained 17 yards on eight runs. Steve Smith did well in substituting for DuCharme on offense,” said Coach Sean O’Donnell.

The loss last week to Delta was impacted by injuries. O’Donnell hopes the injured Pirates will be able to play in the Centauri game on Pagosa’s home field.

“Delta plays in a tougher league than we do,” O’Donnell said. “After an injury took Joe DuCharme out of the game in the first quarter, Mike Smith did a nice job of leadership under the circumstances,” the coach said. Andrew Rice, a sophomore, substituted for DuCharme on defense, after the senior left the game.

After last weekend’s games, the Pirates were still 2-1 in the conference standings. Bayfield was also at 2-1 in the league and Buena Vista had a 3-1 record. Buena Vista still has a game left against Salida.

“We need to be healthy for the last two regular season games,” said O’Donnell. “And we still have to tackle and block better.”

Centauri enters the game 7 p.m. Friday game at Pagosa with an 0-4 conference record. They have lost to Bayfield, Salida and Buena Vista.