After bludgeoning its way to five rushing touchdowns during a season-opening victory over Hayden, the Mancos High School football team took to the air in its second game and produced five passing touchdowns during a 52-12 road victory over Norwood on Nov. 16.
Keying the Bluejays’ aerial attack was a standout performance by quarterback Ayden Mathews, who ran the offense like a seasoned veteran while completing 7 of 13 passes for 155 yards and five scores in just his second high school start.
Especially impressive was the sophomore gunslinger’s ability to fire the ball accurately to all areas of the field and score with three different receivers.
“A big part of game is the run game,” said Mathews. “We wanted to get (the Norwood defense) coming forward and then toss it over them. That’s a big goal for our season and a big goal for seasons to come as well.”
While the second-year quarterback’s performance was key in his team’s victory, so, too, was another outstanding performance by junior Chase Moore, who amassed 250 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns on 19 carries.
The star junior also caught a touchdown pass and intercepted two passes while displaying the speed and football instincts that have helped him become one of the most versatile prep players in the state.
“We’re a power team,” said fullback/wide receiver Christian Cova, who ran for 37 yards and made key blocks on several of Moore’s runs. “Hard and strong is how we’ve always wanted to play.”
Among the plays that reminded all those in attendance of the Bluejays’ physical approach came on a 91-yard touchdown run by Moore midway through the second quarter that saw the running back lower his shoulder and deliver a punishing blow to a would-be tackler along right sideline.
The scoring run, which followed a 45-yard touchdown run by Moore and a 45-yard touchdown pass from Mathews to Cova during the first quarter, put Mancos ahead 22-0 and left fans in awe of the sheer physicality of the Bluejays team.
Although the Mavericks briefly righted their ship thanks to a 5-yard run by Tyler Wytulka and a 42-yard Hail Mary from Wytulka to Steele Arnold on the final play of the half, a 40-yard touchdown pass by Mathews to Moore, and a 22-yard touchdown pass by Mathews to Cova, during the final five minutes of the second quarter put Mancos ahead 34-12 heading into halftime.
After a halftime intermission that was extended for homecoming festivities, Mancos opened the second half on fire when Mathews delivered an accurate 12-yard touchdown pass to Cova on a hook route that demanded a perfect throw and sure hands.
A 2-yard touchdown run by Moore late in the third quarter put the Bluejays ahead 46-12, and Mancos capped off its scoring when Mathews delivered a long touchdown pass to Coleman Hoover that might have reminded fans of touchdown passes from Breccen Morelli to Anthony Medina last season.
“Being behind Breccen last year was really beneficial for me,” said Mathews. “It was a big part of preparing myself for this year. It made me more comfortable.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bluejays were led by senior Colt Fury, who made a game-high 22 tackles and delivered several hits that left Norwood’s players unsteady on their feet. Cova was credited with 17 tackles from his linebacker position, and senior Lot Martin had one sack.
Cova led Mancos receivers with four catches for 87 yards and three touchdowns and Moore 40 yards receiving and 358 all-purpose yards.
With its record now at 2-0, Mancos will begin looking ahead to a home matchup against Sargent High School at 1 p.m. on Oct. 24. While Mancos players admitted that their team is playing well, Cova emphasized that the Bluejays can still improve.
“Our coverage, we need to work on that, but we’re getting better each week,” the senior said.