With his team trailing 25-0 halfway through the first quarter of its home opener against Hotchkiss on Oct. 8, Dolores head coach Grant Hobbs sensed that it was going to be a long night.
Refusing to throw in the towel, however, the Dove Creek High School graduate paced the sidelines while imploring his players to fight for every inch, scrap for every yard and reach for every first down.
Although positive plays proved difficult to come by, Bears players appeared to be motivated by their head coach’s words, and after falling behind 38-0 by the end of the first quarter, improved their play over the final three quarters of what ended up being a 52-0 loss.
“It was a great feeling to be out here. We’re just blessed that we get to play football,” Hobbs said after the contest. “With all that’s going on in the world right now, we’re just trying to give kids opportunities. You don’t always win in life and that’s the message to them. We have to face adversity head on and we can’t look away from it.”
Among the bright spots in the contest for Dolores was the play of junior fullback Levi Fuller, who brought the home crowd to its feet early in the third quarter when he delivered a crushing block that allowed junior quarterback Wyatt Koskie to race around the right side for a first down.
Fuller then took a handoff from Koskie on the next play and smashed through the Hotchkiss defense for a gain of 10 yards before leaping to his feet and imploring his clearly energized teammates to play on.
“I didn’t have much to lose, I was ready and I wanted to prove something,” Fuller said, when asked about his big plays after halftime. “It really was great after about a year of being off the field. It wasn’t the way we wanted it to turn out, but we’re going to come back strong. I’m proud of our boys’ efforts even though the scoreboard didn’t go our way.”
Also delivering several impressive plays, including a fourth-quarter touchdown run that was called back because of to a holding penalty, was Koskie, who showed an innate ability to avoid pressure in the pocket before delivering accurate throws down the field.
“My quarterback, the kid never stops,” Hobbs said. “He’s a grinder, he’ll take a hit, he’ll get out of the pocket, he’ll create plays.”
While the play of Fuller and Koskie clearly energized the Bears, Hotchkiss’s combination of size on the line and speed at the skill positions was too much for Dolores to handle throughout most of a night that began with a kick return by the Bulldogs on the opening play.
A 69-yard run by Hotchkiss quarterback Yahir Chavez on his team’s first offensive play from scrimmage and three punt returns for touchdowns by Blaine Peebles further buried the Bears, who struggled with tackling throughout the night.
“When they hang 52 (points) on you, I’d say that (our tackling) has to improve,” Hobbs said. “When you don’t have (enough) players to put a defense and an offense on your field during practice, it’s kind of hard to prepare for live situations of tackling.”
With its record now at 0-1 on the season, Dolores will look ahead to what figures to be an exceptionally difficult road matchup against perennial state powerhouse Centauri High School, which will take place on Oct. 16 at a time that has yet to be determined.
“Our game against Hotchkiss was not the debut that I absolutely wanted, but it’s the one that I’ll always have and we’ll move on from here,” Hobbs said. “No excuse, we have to get better.”