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Ignacio football forfeiting finale at Del Norte

Injured ‘Cats down to nine players
Five game-day footballs on Ignacio High School’s sideline before a game this fall. Back-to-back forfeits will conclude the once-promising campaign. (Joel Priest/Special to the Herald)

On Monday morning, the other shoe dropped for Ignacio’s football team.

And with Ignacio barely treading water, it sunk the Bobcats’ once-promising fall season like concrete galoshes.

Having elected to forfeit their Senior Night home game versus 1A Southern Peaks Conference heavyweight Centauri on Friday, the decision was made – and announced in an e-mail from IHS Athletic Director Leo Garand – to also axe their slated finale this Friday night at Del Norte.

“I’ve got nine kids left, so it was really tough. I wish we would have had the same 14 kids when we started, before we got hurt,” said IHS head coach Alfonso “Ponch” Garcia, alluding primarily to a crippling wave of injuries, which first impacted Ignacio right before its league opener Oct. 8 against Center, but also indirectly to rumored academic troubles. “Who knows what would have happened, you know what I mean?”

“Against Monte Vista, I had to patch up the team just so I could honor the game. I wish I could have done that for (Del Norte) so they can, you know, get a game … instead of getting a forfeit. I’m sure they’re pretty bummed. I feel really bad for them.”

“It is always difficult to not play a game for whatever reason, whether it be for COVID, eligibility issues or injury,” Del Norte athletic director and head football coach Richie Madrid said Tuesday morning. “The Del Norte football team was looking forward to playing Ignacio, not because they are a league opponent but because it is Ignacio and you know the game is going to be competitive.”

Following a second 2-0 forfeit loss in as many weeks, the ’Cats will finish 5-4 overall, but a most disappointing 0-4 in SoPeaks play. The Tigers, meanwhile, should improve to 2-6, 1-2. Their Oct. 8 clash with Centauri was ruled a no-contest because of pandemic-prevention protocols that depleted both teams. Del Norte will bring in non-conference Peyton as a replacement for Ignacio.

“We were in touch with them last week … trying to give them the heads-up that there could be a possibility we were not going to have a game,” Garcia said. “The only way we were going to play was ... it would have to be a miracle.”

“I’m really sad what’s happened because I wanted our seniors to finish on a good note. And they don’t get to finish like that now,” Garcis said. “They’ll be very well-missed. It’s a good group of kids, one of the best I’ve had the pleasure of coaching.”