During the traditional homecoming assembly at Pueblo West High School last week, some of the football team captains told their fellow students that there would not be a dance on Saturday night, if they did not beat the Bears on Friday.
Thanks in large part to their senior quarterback, Zac Drury, there was plenty of dancing on both Friday and Saturday night.
Drury didn’t wait until Saturday to bust some moves. Instead, he danced all over the Palmer Ridge Bears on Friday night — zigging and zigging, bobbing and weaving to the tune of 278 total yards of total offense.
Drury’s mad scrambles and highlight-reel-runs are becoming legendary.
None was more dazzling than his 73 yard touchdown run at the end of the first half.
The play seemed to last forever, as the little-QB-that-could just kept shedding would-be tacklers, spinning, juking and jiving all the way down the sideline.
Fortunately for the Cyclones, Drury and his tight end, Dean Thompson, had even more ‘dancing to do in the second half, leading West to a 35-22 victory.
The “ZD-to-DT combo” could not have clicked at a better time as the Cyclones were desperate to bring some balance to their offensive attack.
The tandem had come close to connecting on big plays in every game, and in the first three quarters of this game.
And finally, it happened.
The Cyclones were sputtering in the third quarter, and clinging to a 21-16 lead.
Facing a critical third down and short, the ground-and-pound Cyclones executed a picture-perfect play action pass.
With everyone in the stadium expecting a run, Drury faked the handoff to Wills, sprinted right, and found Thompson wide open on the sideline. Thompson hauled in the nice touch pass and dashed for a 60 yard touchdown.
Pueblo West High School football head coach Monte Pinkerton was pretty matter-of-fact about the call, but it was a big a beauty.
“We just thought that the play action pass would be there at that time,” Pinkerton said, “And our players did an excellent job of executing it.”
The big score allowed the Cyclone faithful to finally exhale, and enjoy the final quarter that included a second Drury to Thompson TD pass of 18 yards.
Drury finished the night 7-12 for 123.
Even the Cyclones running specialists got in the passing act, as Fullback Kaden Wills had two receptions for 26 yards, and tailback Cameron Vaughan hauled in one for 17 yards.
As good as it was to see the Cyclones put the ball in the air, it was especially encouraging to see them do it on top of amassing their usual fifth of a mile running the ball (1,176 feet/392 yards to be exact). Vaughan was the work horse this week, rushing for 148 yards on 24 carries with one touchdown. Wills added 89 yards on 12 carries and one touchdown.
The Cyclones offensive line had a strong bounce back game after struggling the previous two weeks.
West’s moving crew neutralized the Bears “blitz and bombard” attack.
Daniel Hernandez, Josh Medeiros, Malik Jones, Keith Hed, and Cody Ortiz also showed some improvement in the pass protection department.
In all fairness, West has traditionally approached the passing game the same way major league baseball teams approach their pitchers hitting instruction.
It’s just not essential to the team’s success.
So we have definitely need to offer kudos when kudos are due to the coaches and players for implementing and executing an effective passing game.
Despite some key injuries, and the inexplicable ejection of one of their most dominate players, (linebacker Brandon Summer), the Cyclones defensive unit logged another rock solid performance against the Bears. West held the upstart Palmer Ridge offense to just 86 yards rushing on 28 attempts, and 79 yards passing on 24 attempts.
The Cyclones junior defensive back Travis Myers had a big interception.
His counterparts, Brock Wahlert, Josh Casias and Gilbert Curtis also made life rough for the Bear’s receivers all night—and the dance party was on!
The Cyclones won’t have much time to celebrate, as they gear up for what should be a classic clash with the 5-1 Pueblo Centennial Bulldogs this Friday night at 7 p.m. at Dutch Clark Stadium.
Centennial is 6-1 overall and tied with the Cyclones for second in the Foothills league at 3-1. Quarterback Quincy Kindred commands a lot of attention from opposing defenses.
Kindred, who was tearing up the league and atop the state leaderboard in the rushing categories earlier in the season, has been contained a bit over the last few games.
But he has shown that he can hurt teams with his arm as well, and his running backs Caleb Miranda and Mike Palumbo are now sharing the load.
Coach Pinkerton knows that they will need to have all hands on deck, and be hitting on all cylinders to play with the bulldogs.
“They are a run heavy team, so we will need to win the battle up front to try and slow down their offense,” Pinkerton said.
“We will need to control the ball and the clock on offense, to give us the best chance to win.”
If the Cyclones can prevail over the bulldogs, it will set up a great showdown next week with their archrival South Colts for at least a share of the Foothills League lead. But none of the Cyclones coaches or players are looking past anyone at this critical point of the season.
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