The weather was warm, the grass was green and everyone was excited for football. Unfortunately for Mancos fans, players and coaches, the excitement did not last long.
Opening the high school football season at home against the Sangre de Cristo Thunderbirds on Aug. 31, the Mancos Bluejays looked young and inexperienced, getting thumped by a score of 50-6.
From the very start, the Bluejays looked out of sorts, allowing Thunderbird receivers two long receptions on the game's opening possession before giving up a 34-yard touchdown run to Thunderbird running back Corey Cooley. After receiving a pitch from quarterback Kyle Beiriger, Cooley darted to the left, cut hard back towards the middle and outran the Bluejay defense to the end zone.
After the Bluejays went three and out on their first offensive possession, the Thunderbirds again came up big, blocking a Ty Koppenhafer punt and falling on it in the end zone to go ahead 14-0.
The tough times continued for the Bluejays on their next offensive possession when quarterback Andrew Morgan was flushed out of the pocket and intercepted at the Mancos 22-yard-line.
After forcing the Thunderbirds offense back 9 yards, the Bluejays secondary broke down, allowing Troy Fritz to get behind them for a 31-yard touchdown reception that put the visitors up 20-0.
As the first quarter dragged on, the Thunderbirds continued pouring it on, scoring again on a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Beiriger to move ahead 26-0.
Throughout the second quarter, the Thunderbird onslaught continued as Beiriger threw touchdown passes to Fritz and Victor Eriquez. By the time that the second quarter expired, the Thunderbirds were ahead 42-0 and the game was all but in the books.
The Bluejays refused to give up, however, and midway through the third quarter, finally came up with a big play. After the Bluejay defense pressured the Thunderbirds' second-string quarterback, Bluejay defensive end Bryan Jaime intercepted a weakly thrown ball and returned it to the Thunderbird 7-yard line.
""We were running a blitz on the outside," said Jaime. "Our middle linebacker came hard and hit (the quarterback). The ball kind of flew out and I got it."
Clearly invigorated by Jaime's effort, the Bluejay offense scored its first and only touchdown on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Morgan to tight end Brandon Hood-Farley. With the score, Mancos cut the Thunderbirds' lead to 42-6.
Describing the touchdown play, Hood-Farley stated, "It was a solid fake by (Morgan). It iced everyone on that defense and it helped me get open in the back of the end zone. It was just pitch and catch."
After the Bluejays allowed another touchdown run to Beiriger, both defenses held and the game ended with the Thunderbirds up 50-6.
"We've got a lot of work," said Bluejay head coach Adam Priestley. "Every position has a lot of work. The young guys have to step up for us."
Asked what the Bluejays will do to improve, Priestly said, "We might spend two hours watching film so we understand what we're looking at. We've got to build football knowledge and make sure our guys understand why they're getting beat."
Looking to rebound from the tough loss, the Bluejays will next travel to Blanca on Sept. 7 to face Sierra Grande.
"It's going to be tough," said Priestley. "Sierra Grande is loaded for bear."