Alamosa hosts Monte Vista for rematch
By STEPHEN JIRON
Courier Sports Editor
ALAMOSA — This Friday marks a rematch of two valley teams from last year. Monte Vista will travel west for their second meeting with Alamosa in the past two years.
In their contest from last year, it was all Alamosa. The Mean Moose’s Brendon Madril would throw one touchdown while former seniors Chad Jackson and Ben Wuckert would add one apiece on the ground to total a three-touchdown night – pitching a 24-0 shutout.
Moving forward, both teams faced their share of struggles. Monte Vista would have to wait until their third game before they scored a point and their fourth before they would register a win. The Pirates closed the regular season with a 5-4 record.
On the other side of things, Alamosa struggled to a 1-3 finish in their league, mustering a 4-4 record through the regular season. Despite the adversity, both squads would make the postseason, Monte Vista falling to Colorado Christian and Alamosa to Resurrection Christian, each in the first round.
Alamosa starts fresh with new Head Coach Drew Sandlin from Rock Canyon. While Monte Vista has tried-and-true Manny Wasinger at Head Coach. Wasinger has coached two undefeated, state champion Mean Moose football teams and needs no introduction to the SLV football faithful.
With the graduation of Zach Hindes, Monte Vista will likely look to senior Kaidon Wenta who has the most experience at the quarterback position, taking a good portion of the snaps these past few years. That said, Monte Vista relies pretty heavily on a feature runner. In 1,083 recorded snaps over the past two-years, 86 percent have been run plays.
Monte Vista may look to implement a run/pass option (RPO) offense for Wenta. Effectively putting their most experienced passer in position to make plays but also giving their most productive rusher plenty of touches. Wenta led the team rushing yards for the 2018/19 season going for an impressive 1,475 yards on 229 carries with a team-leading 17 touchdowns. The Monte Vista senior was also impressive on limited passing attempts in 2017, going 9/16 for 171 yards and two touchdowns and would figure to get plenty of touches when the Pirates have possession.
Defensively, Monte Vista will see the return of leading tackler Cobi Garcia. Garcia led the team in takedowns with 115 total tackles. But the Monte Vita junior made more of an impact than just getting stops; he also forced two fumbles, led the team in fumble recoveries and he and fellow junior Daniel Vargas tied for the team lead in sacks with three.
Alamosa will likely have a new look to their offense. An injury to then-senior Jon Lujan last year left Alamosa scrambling. The Moose implemented the RPO with Chad Jackson at quarterback part-time and a more balanced offense with Brendon Madril at quarterback part-time. Which often telegraphed the offense’s intentions.
With both Jackson and Lujan graduated, things simplify for the Moose this year. Madril figures to take over the quarterback position indefinitely freeing speedster Ian Jackson and 6’5” Brenden Crowther to split out wide and wreak havoc downfield. As Alamosa’s leading rusher from a year ago, Madril will likely still see some designed runs but expect to see the majority of the workload to fall elsewhere.
On the other side of the ball, juniors Cash Mueller and Kane Absmeier will figure to be the two main contributors. Mueller led the team in sacks with 7 and finished second on the team with 81 tackles a year ago. Absmeier was a productive tackler with 45 stops and tied for the team lead in interceptions with Ian Jackson, both boys had 2.
Monte Vista travels to Alamosa for their game this Friday, September 6, at 7 p.m.
Also opening their seasons this Friday will be Centauri and Center. For the third season in a row, Centauri will face the Paonia Eagles. Two years ago it was a close affair with one touchdown separating the two teams. But last year it was no contest with the Falcons running roughshod over Paonia in a 38-0 shutout. Though the largely defensive Falcons may rely a little more on their offense than in previous years, they will still go into Friday’s with an advantage. The ground-based offense for Paonia graduated Anthony Felice, Jesse Burns and Sackett Chesnik, a trio that accounted for more than 80 percent of their rushing yards last season. The Falcons and Eagles kick off at 7 p.m. on Sept. 6th.
Center’s first year back had its ups and downs. The Vikings would close the season with a 5-4 record and miss the postseason. But Center would open the season with respectable 3-1 record highlighted by a season-opening 31-14 victory over Lake County. Braving the storm of their first year back Center will look to start the season with another win against the very same Lake County Friday at 7 p.m.