With a couple of good scrimmages and nearly a month’s worth of two-a-day practices under the belt, the Pagosa Springs Pirate football team is pumped up for this week’s season opener against Centauri.
“This year’s team is focused,” Coach Scott Spoede said. “We started off with two-a-days, and the sense that I got after each session is they got better each time. These boys have been encouraging, coaching and supporting each other every day and you can see a team forming.”
Spoede stepped up into the head coach position this year after former coach Olin Garrison’s resignation at the end of last season, where the Pirates struggled with the loss of a few key players and managed to secure only one win — a 28-17 victory over the Gunnison Cowboys in their penultimate game. They ended the year with a 1-8 record.
The team started this year with an Aug. 1 scrimmage against Monte Vista.
“It was apparent our defense is what held us together,” the coach recalled. “We were fortunate to be able to schedule a second scrimmage with them this last week to see how we have improved over the last few weeks.”
Of the second scrimmage Spoede said, “I feel that our offense had a great turnaround and our defense continued where they left off. Of course, there were things that we addressed and wanted to work on, but overall we were very pleased with the progress these boys are making. It seems each week when we raise the bar and set the challenge for these boys, they are more than willing to exceed our expectations.”
Spoede’s coaching staff includes Mike Kelly, Todd Shulda and fellow newcomer Zach Wood.
“We have a good handful of players returning,” the coach continued, “and there hasn’t been a huge change in their positions. For me, I am expecting a team effort and everyone stepping up to do their part to make this a successful team. Hopefully, our fans will leave games thinking we have a solid team.”
Fans from last year will recognize a few names. Dean Scott, Jeremiah Miller and Creede Wylie, for example, will be sharing the role of team captain. Scott returns as the quarterback on one side of the ball and a defensive back on the other, while Miller resumes his roles as both a running back and a defensive back, and Wylie will take his place as a lineman on both sides of the ball. Basically, since there are only 15 starters on the team, most of the athletes will play both offense and defense.
Spoede clarified, “The squad is made up of about — it could change week-to-week — eight seniors, 14 juniors and a handful of sophomores.”
Chase Patane and Keenan Early will play as fullbacks, David McRee and Skylar Goldberg will be the tight ends, and Tate Drane is slated for the wide receiver position. Marcos Quezada, the kicker from last year, will also return to the team this year.
Besides Wylie, the offensive and defensive line will consist of Alonso Hernandez, Carter Walsh, Josh Smith, Lamont Smith, Logan Lebeau and Ryan McInnis.
“This weekend, we will travel to Centauri and play them at 1 p.m.,” the coach explained. “At this point, there isn’t any video on them, so our scouting report is based off of last year’s video and a brief conversation I had with their head coach.”
Last year’s season opener was also against the Centauri Falcons, who set the tone for the rest of the Pirates’ season with a solid 46-6 trouncing. The Pirates will be looking to get revenge for that game on Saturday.
“We have had a chance to watch a couple of other teams on our schedule,” Spoede continued, “and all I can say is that there are some good programs that we will face and we have to prepare ourselves to be in the right game situations to beat them. It won’t be a walk in the park.”
After traveling to La Jara to face the Falcons on Aug. 31, the Pirates will return to Golden Peaks Stadium on Sept. 6 to host Alamosa. Last year, the Mean Moose beat the Pirates 48-7. Then, on Sept. 13, the Aspen Skiers will come to Pagosa Country to see if they can repeat last year’s 21-14 victory.
On Sept. 20, the Pirates travel to Basalt to take on the Longhorns before returning to their home turf to challenge the Coal Ridge Titans on Sept. 27.
October will start with a trip to Parachute on the 4th for a match against the Grand Valley Cardinals and then travel to another away game against the Olathe Pirates on Oct. 11, before returning to Golden Peaks to host the Gunnison Cowboys on Oct. 18. The regular season will end with a trip to Bayfield to fight the Wolverines on Oct. 25.