Entering the season in the top five in the preseason CHSAA polls, Mancos and Dove Creek made sure to post a pair of early statements.
Both the Bluejays and Bulldogs passed their tests with flying colors in Week 1, as Mancos thrashed New Mexico powerhouse Melrose 46-8, and Dove Creek opened its home slate in style, easing past Plateau Valley 54-0.
Mancos (1-0) made the road trip to northern New Mexico to play the Buffaloes (1-1) on a neutral site in Chama. The matchup featured a pair of teams that finished as runner-up in the 2021 state championships for their respective states in eight-man football.
Defending the honor of the Centennial State, Mancos turned away Melrose on the game’s opening possession, and turned it into points through junior Kail Wayman, who scored three touchdowns to highlight a dominant day on the ground for head coach Josh Gardner's Jays.
After trading possessions with Melrose, Mancos started to seize control with another drive, this one capped with a connection between senior quarterback Ayden Mathews and Wayman, giving Mancos a 14-0 lead.
Shortly before halftime, Mathews called his own number on the ground, running in for a third Mancos score, and giving Mancos a 20-0 edge heading to the locker room.
The Bluejays turned the screws early in the second half, scoring a pair of backbreaking touchdowns early in the third quarter, including an 80-yard scamper from Mathews, to all but end the contest. Mathews added a pair of additional scores, sandwiched around Melrose's lone TD, to give Mancos an emphatic win.
Much like Mancos, Dove Creek (1-0) looked eager to set the tone for the 2022 campaign, wasting little time in dispatching Plateau Valley (0-1) at the Soper Sports Complex.
Within the first 30 seconds of the contest, senior quarterback Kade Hankins laced a pass to junior Taber Dejane for a 74-yard connection and the game's first points. The duo would connect again late in the first quarter – by which point the Bulldogs had built a 32-0 lead.
Hankins showed his elusiveness on the ground, scoring a pair of runs in the first quarter, including a slash-and-dash 78-yarder before adding a third TD at the beginning of the second quarter.
Junior Gage Buffington tallied his first touchdown of the season to push the contest to running clock, before junior quarterback Colten Fury took the helm and added another score to push the Bulldogs past the half-century mark.
Head coach Shane Baughman’s defense turned away the lone Cowboy threat late in the third quarter, earning a goal-line stand to preserve the shutout, and propel Dove Creek to a 1-0 start.
Both the Bulldogs and Bluejays will be at home next week, as Dove Creek hosts Rangely on Friday, Sept. 2 at 7 p.m. while Mancos gears up for a battle with Monticello at Bluejays Stadium.