Last season, Mancos High School running back Chase Moore produced what was arguably the finest individual season his team had ever seen when he rushed for 1,900 yards and scored 31 rushing touchdowns.
Never one to focus solely on individual accolades, however, the Bluejays star was left with a bitter taste in his mouth when his team suffered a heartbreaking 34-28 defeat to eventual state finalist Fowler in the state quarterfinals.
Now, after an offseason of hard work, Moore enters a new season intent on leading Mancos back to the state quarterfinals and possibly beyond.
If Moore and his teammates are to match last season’s success, however, they will need to fill the shoes of quarterback Breccen Morelli, running back Anthony Medina, lineman Nick Dan and several other significant who were lost to graduation.
Among those likely to step into the void left by the Bluejays’ now-departed senior stars is sophomore quarterback Aiden Matthews, who saw a handful of varsity snaps last season while filling in for Morelli.
Although Matthews has yet to play significant minutes at the varsity level, the sophomore’s natural athleticism is unquestioned, and his powerful throwing arm figures to add to a Bluejays passing attack that has taken a back seat in recent seasons.
While the extent of Matthews success likely will depend on the team’s ability to protect him up front, stalwart offensive lineman Colt Fury, veteran Lot Martin and others figure to provide their sophomore signal caller with ample time to survey the field on passing downs.
Senior wide receiver Christian Cova figures to be the team’s top wide receiver, and Moore also is likely to get plenty of opportunities to catch the football after amassing 264 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns last year.
While putting points on the board won’t be difficult for Mancos, the strength of this year’s team could end up being a stalwart defense anchored by senior Colt Fury, who emerged as one of the state’s top linebackers last year.
A tough and physical individual with a nose for the football, Fury came through with a team-high 170 tackles last season while consistently turning opposing offensive players onto their backs.
Although finding a pass rusher to replace Morelli, who had a team-high eight sacks last season, could prove difficult, Martin could fill the void if he is able to improve on the three sacks that he had last year.
Cova, who is known as a ball hawk, will be counted on to create turnovers, while Moore will look to bring his hard-hitting physical style to a talented Mancos secondary.
While anything can happen over the course of a high school season, Mancos figures to be favored in the majority of its regular season games this season and could easily end up heading into its season regular season finale against Sanford with an unblemished record.
The Bluejays will open their season at home against Hayden High School on Oct. 9 before traveling to Norwood on Oct. 16. Games against Sargent, Sangre de Cristo, and Dove Creek could also prove challenging for the Bluejays as they seek to be one of eight 8-man teams in postseason play.