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Pirates teach a 44-12 lesson

In logic (as in mathematics), two negatives equal a positive.

While that notion may seem illogical in real life, that simple fact was attained with elegance for the PSHS Pirates during their season opener. Taking two negatives — starting with an away game during “zero” week (prior to the start of school) — the Pirates soundly schooled the Del Norte Tigers, handing down an illuminating 44-12 defeat.

“I thought it went great for this time of year,” said Coach Sean O’Donnell in an interview after the game. “We scored on every possession in the first half.”

Having elected to receive after winning the coin toss, the Pirates demonstrated an effective, methodical offense to educate the Tigers. With 9 minutes, 32 seconds left in the quarter, senior receiver Paul Hoffman took an 18-yard pass from senior quarterback Taylor Shaffer in for a touchdown. An extra point by sophomore Tyson Ross gave the Pirates a 7-0 lead.

The Pirates continued the attack in the first quarter, scoring their second touchdown when Hoffman took a 60-yard reception from Shaffer with 6:24 left in the quarter, giving the Pirates a 13-0 lead. Rounding out the quarter, senior Jordan Caler scored on 15-yard reception of a Shaffer pass with 2:17 left, giving the Pirates a 19-0 at the end of the quarter.

“Execution on the offense went very well,” O’Donnell said, “Taylor’s experience throwing the ball made all the difference; he threw the ball very well.”

Shaffer’s experience and talent was evident throughout the second half. With 9:32 left, Shaffer took a 9-yard run into the end zone and, with an extra point by Ross, the Pirates stretched their lead to 26-0.

With Shaffer’s scoring rush, the Pirates were determined to teach the Tigers a thing or two about the effectiveness of the Pirates’ ground game. With 7:55 left, Ross broke out with nothing but green in his way, scoring on a spectacular 69-yard run to the goal. Barely four minutes later, Junior Dakota Miller made good a 9-yard rush to the goal, then repeated with 44 seconds left on a 1-yard run across the goal line, giving the Pirates a commanding 44-0 lead at the end of the first half.

With plenty of breathing space, O’Donnell put his second string in for the entire second half. The Pirates second team proved their strength, holding the Tigers to just 12 points for the game and helping the Pirates get off to a 1-0 start for the season.

Shaffer’s stellar performance, all recorded in the first half, was evident in his 215 passing yards (with three passes for TDs) and 39 rushing yards (with one rushing TD). Ross was in top form, racking up over half of the Pirate’s total rushing yards (110 yards of the team total 217 yards), scoring one TD.

Having made quick work of a frankly remedial Del Norte team, the Pirates graduate to the bigs tomorrow, facing a formidable 3A Alamosa Mean Moose team that is stocked with size and experience.

“Typically, they have a very solid football program,” O’Donnell said. “We haven’t had a lot of success in the win column with them. I think we’ve beat them once in the last eight years.”

Local fans will get their chance to see how the Pirates hold their ground against a seasoned Mean Moose team when Alamosa takes the field at Golden Peaks stadium tomorrow night at 7 p.m.

Despite a dismal record against Alamosa, O’Donnell expressed confidence that his team will adjust to an atypical offensive game run by the Mean Moose and that the Pirates can hold their own against a strong 3A team.

“It presents an excellent challenge for the team at this time of the year,” O’Donnell said, regarding Alamosa’s size, experience and use of the double-wing offense.

Looking back on last Friday’s performance, O’Donnell believed his team should fare better than well against Alamosa. “We looked more like a mid-season team than a team at the beginning of the season,” he said.

It is that appearance that could make all the difference when the Pirates take on Alamosa tomorrow night.