The bright lights and cool nights of high school football are here.
Panther Stadium was packed with black shirts. The pads were popping and bodies were dropping.
It was a great opening night indeed. Especially, for the visiting Dolores Bears varsity squad.
Offensively, defensively and on special teams, the Bears ruled the night. Dolores did what it wanted, when it wanted against the Montezuma-Cortez High School junior varsity Thursday.
The Bears dismantled the Panthers, 64-0.
When we first started there, I thought, Oh man. Here we go, said Dolores first year head coach Ray Weir. Im just glad to get this first one out of the way, honestly. Its been a long offseason leading up to this. What we showed tonight, is only about a quarter of our offense.
Each team went scoreless on their first possession. But when the Bears (1-0) got the ball back, the rout began.
Dolores executed a 45-yard drive to get on the board first. Sophomore tailback Guy Wallace and quarterback Kolton Shull had 15-yard runs apiece on the drive. Senior running back Cody Carroll finished things off with a nine-yard touchdown scamper. Moki Youngquists point after attempt split the uprights and it was 7-0 Bears at the end of the first quarter.
With 5:39 left in the first half, the Panthers (0-1) were punting from their own end zone. But the snap sailed over the punters head out of the back of the end zone for a Dolores safety.
Now leading 9-0, Carroll and Shull had big runs on the Bears drive and Carroll capped things off with his second touchdown.
The PAT made it 16-0.
Ethen Upton would later strike on defense and offense for the Bears. The 6-foot-3 junior recovered a fumble on the M-CHS 13-yard line. The very next play, Shull rolled left and found Upton wide open for a 13-yard touchdown toss.
Shull would go back to the air on his next possession. This time, the senior hit Deano Valdez in the left corner of the end zone from 22 yards out with just four seconds left in the second quarter.
The Bears led 30-0 at halftime.
Unfortunately, for the mostly freshmen Panthers team, the game didnt end there. On the first play of the third quarter, Noah Galyons pass was picked off by Valdez and returned 36 yards for a Bears touchdown.
Carroll would recover a fumble and return it 20 yards for the next Dolores touchdown.
Just before the end of the quarter, Shull scampered 14 yards on a quarterback keeper for another six. Dolores led 51-0 going into the fourth quarter. By CHSAA rule, the clock continuously ran because the margin was at least 50 points.
Jalen Balderrama scored from one-yard out in the final frame and Dolores recovered a fumble in the end zone for the final score.
I thought we were going to have more problems than we did today, Shull said. We had a good week of practice, we prepared well. Guy Wallace ran the rock 20-something times tonight. Hes our workhorse. A lot of credit goes to that.
Youngquist, a former M-CHS soccer player, was a perfect 8-for-8 kicking extra points.
Shull executed the offense nearly flawlessly. He has greatly enjoyed playing for a new coaching staff.
No disrespect to any of our coaches in the past, but this is the best coaching staff that Ive ever been taught with. Ive been playing since I was 7, Shull said.
Wallace gained his first varsity experience. He feels he can be a key component in the Bears offensive attack.
I like this offense. It feels good once you get out there and get going. It all just flows together, Wallace said. Its really good running the plays we got, theyre really effective. We just pound the defense. They cant stop us.
While its nice to get that first win, coach Weir knows its only one game. Next week, 2011 2A state runner-up Bayfield comes to town.
Our defensive line is going to have to step it up against Bayfield. Theyre going to pound us to death up the middle, I think, Weir said. The offensive line, we jumped off (sides), I think twice, three times there in the first quarter? We just got to settle down.
Kickoff against the Wolverines is set for 7 p.m. in Dolores next Friday.