Three minutes into their season opener, the Bluejays already looked to be in mid-season form as they showcased their vaunted running game and stifling defense in a 57-8 thrashing of Hayden.
Mancos, entering the season as the No. 4 team in the CHSAA coaches’ poll, stuffed the Tigers for a three-and-out to open the game. Then, in a drive that has become emblematic of Bluejay football over the past several years, Mancos required only three plays to move the football 68 yards, with senior Chase Moore breaking free from 58 yards out to give the visitors their first points of the season.
It was an omen of things to come.
After Hayden (0-1) briefly threatened on their second offensive sequence, Mancos (1-0) stymied the drive on fourth down with an interception by junior Ayden Mathews. He would manage the subsequent drive from his quarterback position, as the Jays required only four plays to punch it in again. Chase Moore capped the drive with a 15-yard scamper to build the lead to 14-0.
The Bluejays would add one more score before the end of the first quarter, taking over in good field position after a botched punt attempt from Hayden. Another four-play drive, covering 24 yards, demonstrated their dominance in the trenches, with Mathews plowing ahead for a 1-yard score.
Moore would score again from 54 yards early in the second quarter, then add his fourth score of the day from two yards out to push the lead to 35-0 heading in to the locker room.
Moore’s afternoon continued to provide eye-popping efficiency, as the senior running back scored six times on the day, running for 342 yards on 19 carries and averaging 18 yards per carry. Sophomore Kail Wayman complemented Moore’s output with 61 yards and a touchdown of his own. Behind an offensive line led by senior captain Luika Cova, the Bluejays rushed for over 460 yards, averaging 13 yards per carry.
The Bluejays pushed the game to running clock early in the third quarter, allowing ninth-year head coach Josh Gardner to utilize his full contingent of Bluejays in the win.
The defense shined all afternoon, making Hayden quarterback Brayden Dale’s day miserable. Mathews and Moore led the team in tackles on the day and were supported by strong performances by sophomores Chris Medina and Broc Imel, who accounted for six and five tackles, respectively. Senior Mason Goodwin was a menace as well, collecting a sack while forcing Dale to hurry this throws on multiple occasions.
Nineteen different Jays recorded tackles in the win, as Gardner’s roster this season has been one of the largest during his tenure, with more than 30 suited up to begin the campaign.
Mancos employed a standard kick for their extra point after touchdowns, a rarity in the eight-man game, and senior Evan Sehnert successfully kicked five of his six PAT attempts on the afternoon.
A shorter week of preparation awaits, as the Bluejays get set to take on Dolores on Thursday, Sept. 2, in their home opener. The contest kicks off at 7 p.m. and can be heard on 98.7 KRTZ, with the pregame available at 6:30 p.m.