In the hunt for a playoff berth, the No. 23 Pagosa Springs High School Pirate football team notched a big win on Friday, beating the No. 24 Bayfield Wolverines 42-0 on the road.
The win marks the Pirates’ third win in a row, all of which have been against Intermountain League (IML) foes; it also marks the first time Pagosa has defeated Bayfield in 11 years.
Pagosa’s last victory against Bayfield came in the 2008 season.
It also marks the end of the Wolverines’ 23-game league winning streak, which dated back to 2014.
The Pirates’ record now sits at 4-4 overall with a perfect 3-0 record against IML foes; Pagosa also sits in first place in the IML standings.
Pagosa hit the scoreboard first when quarterback Grant Aucoin connected with Mitch Lewis on a 65-yard touchdown pass, giving the Pirates an early 6-0 lead in the first quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Wolverines fumbled, giving possession right back to Pagosa; the Pirates capitalized on the turnover with Paden Bailey scoring from 1 yard out.
A successful quarterback sneak by Aucoin on the two-point conversion gave Pagosa a 14-0 lead with just nine minutes remaining in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, facing a fourth and 5, the Pirates decided to go for it and continue their scoring drive; that decision to go for it proved to be a smart one as Aucoin found Lewis again on a 34-yard touchdown pass on fourth down to push Pagosa’s lead to 21-0 heading into halftime.
Late in the third quarter, Bayfield quarterback Isaac Ross’ pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage by Wil Aucoin and subsequently intercepted and returned for a 50-yard touchdown by Lewis, extending Pagosa’s lead to 28-0.
In the fourth quarter, Bailey found the end zone two more times in close yardage situations to cement the 42-0 victory for Pagosa.
Grant Aucoin finished the night a perfect six of six on passing attempts for 196 yards and two touchdowns.
Lewis led the team in receptions and yards with four catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns; Bailey added two catches for 70 yards.
Bailey led the team in rushes with 24 for 102 yards, Grant Aucoin added nine rushes for 49 yards, Wil Aucoin had four carries for 11 yards, Dustin Clark added three carries for 22 yards and Lewis finished with two carries for 8 yards.
“It was a big win and I think that they’re a good football team,” coach Myron Stretton said in an interview.
The Pirates have continued to get better late in the season, which is exactly what you want, Stretton noted.
In preparing for Bayfield, the Pirates noticed that the Wolverines scored a lot of their points through the pass, but the scoring drives were set up by the run, Stretton added.
“They did throw it effectively against us, that’s really, I think, the biggest chunks of yardage came from throwing it off of play action,” he said.
Shutting out a team is certainly a highlight defensively, Stretton explained.
“Overall it was probably our best defensive effort,” he said.
The defensive line of the Pirates continues to improve, with the defensive ends of the Pirates doing a good job of keeping runs contained, Stretton explained.
Against Bayfield, Stretton praised Nolan Kay for his play against the Wolverines in getting pressure and notching a sack on Ross during the game.
“We ran a five-front most of the game, so that gave us an opportunity to have another defensive lineman in there, and he had just been doing really well in practice,” Stretton said.
Stretton also praised Skyler Hill for playing the run great and getting pressure on Ross.
Pagosa’s defensive backs also did a good job at not biting on the run and continuing to cover their men, he added later.
Offensively, Stretton praised Grant Aucoin’s performance throwing the ball, noting that if not for a few Wolverine tackles, Grant Aucoin could have had four passing touchdowns on just six throwing attempts.
“That was huge,” he said. “Grant threw it really well. He read the option really well.”
Following the game, Stretton explained he told his team to enjoy the win and that they should be excited, but it’s now on to the next game against the No. 21 Alamosa Mean Moose (6-2 overall, 2-1 in league play) at home for Senior Night with kickoff set for 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 1.
For all the marbles
The showdown between the Pirates and Mean Moose will determine not only a postseason appearance, but also a league title.
Pagosa last captured a league title in football in 2009.
“If they beat us, they’re probably in the playoffs,” he said. “I think it’s going to boil down to RPI [Rating Percentage Index] and I think they’re probably going to have a higher RPI.”
Pagosa has done what it needs to and if the Pirates win, they’re in, Stretton explained.
“If we win, we win a league title and we’re in the playoffs,” he said. “There is no pressure from me and I don’t want them to put pressure on themselves.”
In order to capture that league title and playoff appearance, Pagosa will look to gain redemption against Alamosa.
Last season, Alamosa eliminated Pagosa from playoff contention on the last game of the season by defeating the Pirates 30-19.
Pagosa will have to prepare for the Mean Moose’s potent passing attack, led by quarterback Brendon Madril, who has thrown for 1,180 yards with 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Madril is currently averaging 15 yards per attempt, with Ian Jackson leading the Mean Moose in receptions with 34, receiving yards with 625 and touchdowns with 10.
Brenden Crowther also has 31 catches for 508 yards and three touchdowns for Alamosa.
Luke Smith leads Alamosa in rushing attempts with 95 to go along with 821 yards and eight touchdowns.
“They do like to throw it a lot. They spread it out,” Stretton said of Alamosa’s game plan. “They run it effectively because they end up getting people out of the box.”
Alamosa does not run it much, but when they do, it is effective, he noted.
“We’re going to prepare for that defensively,” he said. “Offensively, we’re going to try to establish the option.”
A lot of what Pagosa’s game plan will entail is what alignments Alamosa throws the Pirates’ way, Stretton explained.
“Our game plan is pretty much the same every week and that’s how option football works,” he said. “You just try to get them in a position where they make the wrong decision.”