A disappointing season ended with a big 53-0 win over Gunnison for the Delta Panthers football team. The one-sided victory left Delta's record for the season at 3-2 in 2A Intermountain League standings and 4-5 overall. Delta's RPI ranking (No. 18) seemingly leaves the Panthers without a post-season playoff berth in some time. Only the top 16 (RPI) teams make the final pairings for a shot at a 2A State football title.
Bayfield completed its regular season with a 5-0 league record and 9-0 overall placing the Wolverines atop Class 2A team standings. Platte Valley's Broncos are second (9-0) and Kent Denver is third (9-0). La Junta lands in fourth place (8-1) and The Classical Academy (Colorado Springs) is fifth (8-1).
Other area teams in the top 16 include No. 7 Basalt (7th-8-1), Pagosa Springs (12th-6-3), Aspen (13th-8-1) and Alamosa (14th-6-3).
The state's RPI standings show Platte Valley, Kent Denver, Bayfield, La Junta and The Classical Academy occupying the top five positions. Basalt stayed at No. 7, Aspen is 12th and Pagosa Springs is listed 13th. Delta is No. 20.
Last Friday's match-up against the visiting Gunnison Cowboys was all Delta.
Gunnison generated its most offensive yardage in the first quarter on its first possession. The Cowboys had 37 yards of offense in the possession and finished the game with just 61 yards (unofficially) for the game. Two pass plays from junior Dante Marchitelli to junior Triston Davis (17 yards) and senior Lane Bacialli (11 yards) paced Gunnison's first possession.
Gunnison went for a first down on Delta's 47-yard line three times before losing the ball on downs after an incomplete pass.
Delta's first possession began on its own 46 with senior Brendon Starr carrying the ball four straight times to Gunnison's 29. Senior quarterback Drake Horn completed a 29-yard scoring strike to senior Colton Galvin to finish a 54-yard drive in five plays. Sophomore Ku La Moo booted the extra point to give Delta a 7-0 lead with 6:48 remaining in the first period.
Starr and Horn combined efforts to score Delta's second touchdown. Starr ran for 43 yards and Horn had 12 yards, scoring the Panther's second touchdown, from five yards out. Moo's kick left Delta on top 14-0 with 3:32 left in the opening quarter.
Gunnison's next possession was a three and out setting up Delta's next possession on its own 45. Starr's running (43 yards) set up the Panthers' third score from the 12-yard line. Senior Kole Granger found his way into the end zone from 12 yards out for the next six points for Delta. Moo's kick culminated a five-play drive which consumed 55 yards, and put the Panthers up 21-0 with 1:10 left in the first quarter.
Gunnison carried its next possession to the second quarter, where a punt gave the ball back to Delta at the Panthers' 40-yard line.
Following a 10-yard run from Starr, senior Cameron Schaal rumbled through the Cowboys defense for 50 yards and Delta's fourth score. The two-play drive covered 60 yards, and with Moo's kick, made the score 28-0 with 11:13 left in the first half.
The Panthers added two more scores in the second period. A 57-yard drive in five plays ended on a 27-yard scoring run by Starr and a 21-yard scamper by Starr the following possession boosted Delta's lead to 41-0 after a Moo kick and a failed two-point conversion. The 40-plus point lead initiated a running clock for the remainder of the contest with 1:48 left in the first half.
The game's leading rusher, Starr, compiled 196 yards on 19 carries in the first half and did not play in the second half.
Gunnison tried an onside kick to begin the second half, and for a brief moment, recovered the ball. An offside penalty against the Cowboys nullified the recovery and Gunnison re-kicked the ball.
The Panthers began their drive on Delta's 27-yard line. Senior lineman Josh Reeder opened the quarter as Delta's fullback and bruised his way for nine and seven yards on consecutive runs for a first down at the 45. Senior Cameron Carter took the next handoff from Horn and twisted his way into the end zone from 55 yards away. Unfortunately, the touchdown did not count as an inadvertent whistle killed the play at Gunnison's 20-yard line.
Delta senior Uriel Blanco got his chance to run the ball after the first down at the 20-yard line. He had runs of seven and 12 yards to the Cowboy's one-yard line before bulling his way over the goal for six points with 4:02 left in the third quarter. Logan Church's try for extra point failed leaving Delta with a 47-0 lead.
Church's kick on the ensuing kickoff was high and to the right. Gunnison was unable to reach the ball before Church arrived and the Panthers recovered the ball on Gunnison's 38.
The Panthers, behind the guidance of freshman quarterback Nolan Bynum, ran one play before the third quarter ended with Delta leading 47-0.
Following two running plays to begin the fourth quarter, the Panthers punted the ball away. Gunnison took over on its 13 and was forced to punt the ball away following a Marchitelli sack by junior Kolby Keller.
Delta's final possession began on its own 44. Sophomore Cody Sauve highlighted the possession with three runs for 30 yards. Bynum had an 18-yard run and finished the scoring drive on an eight-yard touchdown run with 3:29 left in the game. Horn's attempted PAT failed making the final score 53-0.
Delta, unofficially, finished the game with 418 total offensive yards; 60 through the air and 358 on the ground.
Gunnison finished the game with 40 yards through the air and another 21 on the ground for a total of 61 yards.
Several Panthers finished in the top 10 of statistical categories in the 2A Intermountain League rankings.
Horn was third in passing yardage with 613 yards.
The Panther's Starr led the league in rushing with 1052 yards; Galvin was the league's third highest yardage receiver with 307; Starr was third in total yards and Horn finished with 886.
Defensively, Church finished sixth in tackles with 66, Aiden Barrios had 61 and Reeder had 60. Senior Jacob Wear was 11th with 58 tackles.
In the sack department, Wear was fifth with five and Church (10th) had three.
Schaal, with his two interceptions, is 10th in that turnover category in the WSL.