ALAMOSA — On their home opener, the Mean Moose made halftime adjustments and distanced themselves from a once competitive game to run away with a 40-14 win over the visiting Monte Vista Pirates.
Both squads enter this season after first-round exits from the postseason last year. The interclass competition gave the two teams a chance to try a few things out before the grinding against league opponents begins.
Alamosa showed flickers of an explosive passing game, an aggressive running game and an adaptive defense. Monte Vista put a versatile spread offense on display.
The first possession in Friday night’s game, Alamosa’s offense hustled down the field. A long connection from Brendon Madril to Brenden Crowther set up the Moose up 15 yards out. Fellow senior Luke Smith would take the hand-off and break into the open field and get Alamosa on the board first giving the home team a 6-0 lead early.
Monte Vista would answer back quickly. Cobi Garcia and Kaidon Wenta combined to grind the Pirates down the field but their rhythm was broken by a holding call. The penalty would not end the drive for the Pirates however, two plays later and Wenta found Jarren Chavez on the sideline, Chavez turned upfield and gave the Monte Vista fans something to stand and cheer about with a 52-yard completion for a score.
Trailing 7-6 to a team that could very easily chew up the clock if you let them, Alamosa would go four-and-out, turning the ball over to the Pirates at midfield. From there Monte Vista’s Wenta and Garcia went back to work, Garcia getting 28 yards on the drive and Wenta collecting the other 22 and the score to put the Pirates up 14-6.
With a minute and a half remaining in the quarter Alamosa’s Madril and Smith would get 11 yards on three rushes. From there things went aerial, Madril found Dante Gonzalez Jr. for 9 and then connected with Crowther for another 17 yards putting the Moose at the 25-yard line. Rushing for the Moose, Smith was thunder and lightning in a convenient package. The 5’8” 140 pound senior ran twice his size all night long bursting through first contact on every carry while at the same time maintaining his elusiveness. Smith went for a long gainer on the drive and had the Moose knocking on the door from 11 yards out. Madril capped the drive with a connection to Ian Jackson for the touchdown. Though the 2-point attempt failed Alamosa closed the gap to 14-12. Offensively, Monte Vista did a good job of spreading Alamosa out with a shotgun offense before bootlegging Wenta for gains on the edge or finding a receiver streaking upfield.
Then Monte Vista would pound Garcia on the defense to keep them from keying in on any one thing. The ensuing drive the hard-nosed style carried the Pirates down to the 19-yard line before a high snap wound up in the hands of Mean Moose Cash Mueller. The Pirates would make sure no damage was done as the go-ahead field goal was blocked eight plays later.
With one touchdown already in his pocket, Alamosa’s Ian Jackson would strike again. After forcing a punt from the Pirates, the ensuing drive Jackson took the punt and ran into a crowd around midfield squirting out on the other end all alone. Jackson bolted for an unofficially 69-yard punt return touchdown that put Alamosa up 20-14, giving the Moose the lead for the second and final time.
Before the half, Madril found Kane Absmeier with 15 seconds remaining to put Alamosa firmly in the driver’s seat 27-14. From there it was all Alamosa. Interceptions from Roman Salinas and Evan Sowards and an Absmeier sack-fumble recovery gave the Moose three extra possessions in the second half. Alamosa cashed in, with two more touchdowns in the second half one off a turnover to push their advantage to the tune of the 40-14 finish.
“It’s always important to get the first one and (we) came out and played really well so it was a good feeling”, said Head Coach Drew Sandlin after the game. “I was proud of the way the kids came out and played.”
Monte Vista will stay on the road, traveling for their game against Paonia next week on Sept. 13th. Alamosa will go on the road to face the defending state champions in La Junta next week. “They’re a tough team they’re returning state champions, won state a couple years ago”, coach Sandlin said of La Junta “They’re always going to roll out a good football team, so we’re going to have to be on top of it.”