Log In

Reset Password

Panthers football gears up for a quick turnaround

Aca Dennison takes off around the end for a good gain for Montezuma-Cortez against Kirtland Central in this photo from 2019.
Coach Mack hopes to build on successes of spring season

The typical nine-month passage between wrapping up a high school football season and starting anew has been condensed. For Montezuma-Cortez High School, it’ll be just four months between its spring season and the kickoff of a conventional fall campaign.

For third-year head coach Ivan Mack, the chance to get right back out on the field is a huge plus for his program. “We felt that (in the spring season) we were able to develop more consistent systems on both sides of the ball. That’s something, along with the culture we’re developing, that we hope to carry over into the fall.”

The Panthers made significant strides in their 2-4 spring season, headlined by close battles against several 3A opponents, including state semifinalist Glenwood Springs, while competing in the makeshift 3A West division. Returning to its standard 2A Southwest League schedule, M-CHS will battle familiar foes Bayfield, Alamosa and Pagosa Springs this fall.

Third-year head coach Ivan Mack looks forward to getting right back out on the football field. He hopes improvements in the team’s offensive and defensive systems will carry over into the fall.

The most obvious hole that the Panthers will address in the shortened offseason comes at the quarterback position, where M-CHS graduated All-State signal caller Ty Blackmer. Mack shared that the coaching staff is still narrowing who will start in the opener, but that there will be high confidence in whoever takes on the role this fall.

Meanwhile, the development for young offensive and defensive lines might pay dividends for the Panthers after the spring season. After a year when the Panthers had three first-year players protecting the quarterback, Mack hopes the learning curve isn’t as steep in Year 2. “They’ve got a season under their belt, and we’re definitely hoping that that experience will benefit us on the field.”

M-CHS has leaned on a pass offense in recent years, and Mack aims to find a steady distribution between the ground game and aerial attack. “We’re going to see what moves the ball most effectively in the preseason and the early weeks, but we’re definitely wanting to have as much balance as we can.”

The schedule opens with a trip to Aztec on Friday, Aug. 27, before opening at home with a 7 p.m. meeting against Cedaredge on Friday, Sept. 3 at Panther Stadium.

The Panthers’ schedule also includes an intriguing road matchup against Mancos on Sept. 24, where the Bluejays will shift from eight-man to 11-man football for the contest. League play kicks off in Pagosa Springs on Oct. 8.

Mack knows that the schedule will be a stern test for his squad. “We have a young team this year,” he said, “but we’re also excited with the challenges that we know we’re going to face. We want to keep developing, knowing that we’re going to have a number of players who may be seeing a lot of time on the field this fall who can be long-term impact players for the program.”

Coverage of Panthers football on local radio station, 98.7 KRTZ, kicks off the season on Aug. 27, with the pregame commencing at 6:30 p.m. and kickoff slated for 7 p.m. in the showdown against the Aztec Tigers.