The Dolores High School football team met with teams from Montezuma-Cortez and Mancos on Thursday in Cortez for the group's second 7-on-7 scrimmage.
The preseason scrimmage was organized so that each team was allowed to run 20 offensive plays. If a play resulted in a touchdown or turnover, the offense would start over back at the 20-yard line.
Dolores took the field on offense against M-CHS to start the evening, and they were welcomed by the Panthers' tight coverage. Receivers Branden Donaldson and Tristan Medina found themselves crowded at the line of scrimmage and were forced to fight for position when running their routes.
Senior quarterback Jalen Balderrama settled for short flare passes and quick slants, moving slowly, but methodically down the field. Finally, with three offensive plays remaining, the Bears' big play came.
With the ball near midfield, Donaldson beat his man off the line of scrimmage and darted for the back left corner of the end zone. Balderrama dropped back and threw the fade as the Panthers safety and trailing cornerback attempted to catch up.
Going up for the jump ball with two defenders closing in, Donaldson got his hands on it, but began to bobble it as he fell to the ground. Keeping his eyes on the ball as he was falling, he flailed his arms and attempted to wrangle in the ball however he could.
It appeared that he had secured the ball by pinning it to his chest, but as he made contact with the ground it was jarred loose. Still scrambling for possession, Donaldson finally gained control of the ball by trapping it between his legs as he came down in the end zone for a Bears touchdown.
Switching to defense, the Bears were tested by a M-CHS offense predicated on short, quick routes. M-CHS senior quarterback Cordell Ridings spread the ball around and connected on consecutive passes.
The Bears secondary attempted to deny anything over the top by keeping the Panthers receivers in front of them, and the only score allowed was on an underneath route. After catching a short pass across the middle, senior receiver Austin Bayless made a defender miss and outran another for a M-CHS score.
On the Panthers' final offensive play, Dolores sophomore Talon Zwicker snagged a Ridings pass for an interception to end the scrimmage.
The Bears defensive momentum carried over into their second scrimmage against Mancos. Dolores sophomore Josh Corbitt intercepted Blue Jays quarterback Axel Bonde's first attempt, and the secondary continued its tight coverage. The defense held the Mancos offense in check, knocking down passes, getting quick stops and refusing to allow a score.
Taking possession, Balderrama again began the series with short completions. Settling in and in rhythm, he then found Medina streaking down the seam ahead of the Blue Jays defense and dropped in a spiral for a Bears touchdown.
Following the score, the Mancos defense tightened up, and sophomore Kaleb Hargrave came up with an interception.
Then, on the final play, Balderrama released another deep ball, and freshman Skieler Grooms secured the pass and outran defenders for another Bears score.