On a night that featured stands packed with alumni and a level of energy born of their home stadium’s biggest game of the season, the Montezuma-Cortez High School football defeated Gunnison, 40-22, on Oct. 20.
Chief among the contributors to the Panthers’ victory were junior running back Jacob Schuster, who rushed 18 times for 164 yards and one touchdown, and junior quarterback Ike Dennison, who threw for 217 yards and four touchdowns.
Junior Cordell Baer also came up big for M-CHS with two receiving touchdowns, including a two-yard scoring catch on a hitch route midway through the second quarter to put the Panthers ahead, 7-0. The score was set up by a 66-yard run by Schuster, who darted through a tight hole in the Panthers offensive line and then used his speed to explode for a long gain.
The Panthers’ offense struck for the second time later in the second quarter when Schuster scored from two yards out on a run that off right guard and ended with Schuster soaring head-first across the goal line to put the Panthers ahead 13-0.
“A large part of that run was our blocks,” Schuster said. “We had great holes all night, and we have to give it to our line because without them, the holes would not have been there.”
After the Gunnison defense began the second half with eight players near the line of scrimmage in an attempt to stymie the M-CHS rushing attack, the Panthers’ passing attack gained momentum thanks to several accurate throws by Dennison and catches by Cole Herrmann, Vinny Conklin and Baer.
A 10-yard touchdown pass from Dennison to Baer on a screen pass midway through the third quarter put the Panthers ahead 20-0, and the Panthers added to their lead early in the fourth quarter when Dennison lofted a 15-yard throw in the direction of Tyler Wilson, who outjumped a Gunnison defender and scored to put M-CHS ahead 26-0.
“Our passing game was great,” Dennison explained. “At the beginning of the game, it wasn’t clicking, but after a few corrections, it took off. I had the protection that I needed to get the ball off and the credit for that goes to our line.”
“The line played great,” added Bear. “On my scoring play, (the linemen) just came out, and I followed them. Kale Hall pushed me into the end zone.”
On Thursday, Montezuma-Cortez school district kicked off the 2017 homecoming celebration with a crowded parade down Main Street.
Students, teachers and parents from schools throughout the district marched with about 25 colorful floats just after 5 p.m., while hundreds of onlookers lined the street. This year’s parade had a masquerade theme, so many of the students wore masks or costumes along with their school colors. After the parade, they gathered for a pep rally in City Park, which was festooned with pumpkins and other Halloween-themed decorations.
Trey Yarbrough and Hannah Carver were crowned Montezuma-Cortez High School homecoming king and queen on Friday night.