MONTE VISTA — Just as in the Harrison Ford-Liam Neeson submarine drama K-19: The Widowmaker, a Monte Vista football fan could have picked any number of ominous omens if looking for what could have essentially parked the Monte Vista Pirates’football ship before it even really set sail in 2012.
The resignation of head coach Jim McAuliffe; a successor’s bizarre fall from scaffolding, yielding cracked ribs and broken wrists and the Southern Peaks Conference’s reigning Offensive Player-of-the-Year facing a temporary vision problem, and later a separated shoulder not even four weeks in, all threatened to stop what turned out to be a run for the ages for the Pirates.
One stabilizing presence in particular helped keep things navigating along the right course.
“It could have fallen apart in a hurry,” admitted second-year athletic director Greg Jones.
The SPC Coach-of-the-Year Award was issued in his name after stepping in and helping MVHS to a 9-2 overall record (5-0 in conference) and a berth in the quarterfinals of the Class 1A State Playoffs.
“It’s a nice honor to have,” he said, “but it’s more reflective of the kids and the assistant coaches, it’s a group effort on that.”
“Here at Monte Vista, it’s been 10 years since we won a first-round playoff game,” he noted of the Pirates’ 50-7 flogging of Crowley County in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs at home.
“So that was definitely a goal for us. And then seeing how close we were [an 18-0 loss] to Cedaredge” it just showed how close we were to contending for the title.”
At halftime of the Cedaredge game, the Pirates only trailed by six points and as the playoffs continued, the Bruins eventually upended the Buena Vista Demons to become the Class 1A State Champions. Senior running back Shadron Wenta, after first fighting an eye infection, which later morphed into a serious bacterial issue, caused by extensive wearing of his contact lenses, went on to lead MV’s feared ground attack with a reported 1,221 yards on just 163 carries, and scored 16 touchdowns to repeat as the SPC’s Offensive Player of the Year.
“He’s a good, big, strong kid,” said Jones. “He’s put in a lot of time to get better and stronger”kind of had a rough start to the season, but he overcame a lot this year.”
Pirate senior Austin Vance did not garner a second straight Defensive Player-of-the-Year Award, but the title remained in the San Luis Valley in the hands of Centauri sophomore Jareb Aziz (76 total tackles, 3 sacks, 3 fumbles forced).
Aziz also made a huge impact for the Falcons offensively. He had to fill in when key players Micah Keys and Jason Buhr suffered injuries early in the season.
The Falcons, who were SPC runners-up with a 4-1 mark, finished 7-3 overall this season after falling hard, 55-14, to the Bruins in their playoff opener.
In addition to Wenta, Vance and Aziz, the All-SPC First Team also included four more Pirates and four more of Kyle Forster’s Falcons.
Of notable inclusion was Second Team running back Gustavo Nungaray of Center.
In the harder-luck Vikings’ 18-13 Oct. 12 loss at hard-luck Ignacio, the junior was given the ball a media-counted 46 times, gaining 259 yards.
If, and when, officially verified, his attempts total will gain a share of seventh, matching Doug Simcik’s effort for Northglenn in 1972, and that of Arriba-Flagler’s Lance Nichols in 1989, in CHSAA’s single-game annals.
Del Norte’s top selection was senior wide receiver and linebacker Shawn Beiriger who also served as a running back for the Tigers.
Stats that were reported were scarce but he led his team in rushing and receiving yards in the stats that were reported.
He also finished the season with the third-most tackles in the season.
MORE FIRST TEAMERS: Monte VistaQB / DB Michael Sanchez, Jr.; TE/DE Garrett Pacheco, Sr.; TE/DB Jeff Cooper, Sr.; RB/LB Mitch Vanderpool, Jr.; CentauriFB /OLB Austin Velasquez, Sr.; OL/ LB Austin Valdez, Sr.; OL/ DL Tylen Pavlovsky, SR.; TE/DE Mitchell Wilson, Soph.; IgnacioRB /OL/ DL Austin Haire, Sr.; WR/ DB/P Clayton Jefferson, Jr.; DoloresTE /LB Ethen Upton, Jr.; OL/DL Tyler Weir, Jr.;, OL/DL Ryan Johnson, Sr.; RB/DB Cody Carroll, Sr.; Del NorteWR / LB Shawn Beiriger, Sr.; RB/ DL Austin McDonald, Sr.; WR/DB Brennan Pacheco, Jr.; CenterJustin Wilson, Soph.; Jose Angel Chavez, Jr..
SECOND TEAM: Monte Vista OL/LB Simon Schaefer, Jr.;RB/DB Hansel Garcia, Sr.; OL/DE Isaac Medina, Jr.; CentauriQB / CB K.C. Jarvies, Soph.; OL/DL Bud Ortega, Jr.; DoloresQB /DB Kolton Shull, Sr.; OL/LB Evan Moore, Jr.; Del NorteRB / LB Colin Trujillo, Sr.; WR/ DB Zach McEwen, Sr.; IgnacioQB /DB Adison Jones, Soph.; OL/DL Blaine Mickey, Soph.’ CenterGustavo Nungaray, Jr.
HONORABLE MENTION: Monte VistaOL /DL Steven Pino, Jr.; CentauriTE /DB Clay McCarroll, Jr.; DoloresRB /DB Mikeal Ford, Soph.; Del NorteOL /DL Josiah Simmons, Jr.; IgnacioOL /DL Andy Guire, Sr.; CenterJeremiah Moreno, Jr.; Ceedric Harrison, Soph.