Moffat County golfer Dave Andujo excels at state tourney; Bulldog football back in action while moving season opener closer to home
While a handful of fall athletes at Moffat County High School end their season on a high note, another bunch who bear the blue and white are hoping to start things off on the right foot.
An elite club
Dave Andujo may be a Bulldog, but at many points of the 3A CHSAA State Championships, he was soaring with the birds.
Andujo placed 31st during the final golf tournament of the season, shooting back-to-back 80’s at the two-day event at Gunnison’s Dos Rios Golf Club.
Though it was two days of true competition, head coach Tim Adams added the MoCo junior must have played 63 total holes at the location from Saturday through Tuesday, including an unofficial practice round and the official 18 Sunday to get everyone familiar with the setting.
Day 1 of the tourney started strong for Andujo as he begun on Dos Rios’ back nine. Breaking even on the first five holes, he saw his first bogie on Hole 15 only to right himself with an eagle on 16, earning a 3 on the Par 5.
Though it isn’t the first time in his golf career he’s gotten the coveted double birdie, he was especially pleased with the circumstances on what amounted to the longest stretch of the course at 529 yards.
“I hit a good drive, I hit a decent second shot and then made an insane putt for eagle,” Andujo said of the tourney highlight. “I was probably out only 20 feet or so, but I was off the back of the green and it was really, really steep. It was a double breaker, so it was a near-impossible putt, but I somehow managed to make it.”
Another par and a +2 rounded out the back nine as he finished with a 37, only one stroke above the Par 36 back nine. The front, Par 35, was a different matter, as a triple on Hole 4 was his biggest struggle of the tourney, still ending the front with a respectable 43, tied with two other competitors for 28th.
The opening day of the championships saw scores among the 84 athletes as low as 69 — 3A Region 4 champ, Nic Pevny, of Aspen, who went on to claim the state title with a 140 — and as high as 106.
Being right on the edge of the top third of the leaderboard after the first 18 holes, Andujo was thrilled to be in much better shape than his sophomore year of state. In 2019, he placed 76th with a first day score of 96 followed by a disastrous second round in which he shot a 101.
“Much better than last year,” he said, adding that his overall tempo was right where he wanted it to be, as was his focus on the short game.
The Tuesday round started even more promising than Monday’s, with a birdie to start the front nine that was bookended with another -1 on Hole 9. Despite several bogeys, Andujo shot no higher than a 6 and ended the front with a 38.
“He only hit his driver, I think, four times on the front nine (Tuesday). The front nine, you really don’t need that, so that kinda helped,” Adams said. “Tournament golf, you have to really concentrate, so it’s mentally taxing too.”
Adams said the young golfer didn’t have the same energy for the back nine, where he ended with a 42. On the plus side, weariness was setting in for everyone, and the second day saw Andujo bumped up to tie for 27th among the single-day tallies.
“It’s a lot of golf, essentially you’re talking four days,” Adams said. “Most of it was walking. We walked those nine holes Saturday and walked half of it Sunday before they gave us a cart. He was definitely tired by the time we got done, but he really did a great job, just a huge improvement over last year.”
Adams and Andujo are both already looking forward to next fall and the prospects it could bring for Moffat County golf.
“It’s been fun to watch how he’s matured since last year,” Adams said of Andujo. “He’s always been talented, but just the way that he handled himself this year with adversity, it’s been much better. I’m hopeful that his success will motivate and interest other kids coming out for golf and working hard. Golf is what you make of it.”
The last ride
Though Colorado State High School Rodeo Association closed out the autumn season in September, their neighbor to the north had one final hurrah during October’s first weekend, and MCHS athletes were among the cowboys and cowgirls making a final fall statement.
Amber Salazar is on the board in both pole bending and breakaway roping, her stronger ranking 12th in poles. She kept up in points last weekend in Rock Springs, Wyoming, earning fifth in poles and eighth in breakaway’s first day.
Donnie Quick remains ranked second in Wyoming rodeo’s steer wrestling standings, placing fifth in the event’s first day and winning the second round, a performance that puts him four points shy of the season lead behind Midwest’s Kall Mayfield.
Wyoming will host multiple cutting events throughout the late fall, winter and early spring with full rodeos coming back in 2021 starting in Laramie.
After months of uncertainty throughout 2020 that continued well into what would have been the usual high school football season, the Bulldog gridiron program is bustling once again with pigskin players ready to get started this weekend.
MCHS football kicks off anew at 7:30 p.m. Friday as the Dogs travel to Meeker to begin the season.
Originally, MoCo athletes were scheduled to face off Saturday afternoon with Manitou Springs, only for the hosting school to cancel. But, organizers didn’t have to search far to find a new opponent, with Meeker also facing a gap in their schedule thanks to a cancellation by Ignacio.
Though the drive will be considerably shorter, the Cowboys are likely to be much more competitive than the Manitou Mustangs, based purely on previous season standings.
Whereas Manitou finished fall 2019 last place in the 2A Tri-Peaks League with a 2-7 record, 9-2 Meeker swept the 1A Western Slope and saw only one regular season defeat, 42-28, to eventual state champs Limon.
The Cowboys also made it as far as the 1A quarterfinals where they were crushed 41-6 by Centauri.
In recently released rankings based on coach polls, Meeker stands at third in the 1A division.
However, any kind of expectations for this fall are largely guesswork, given that the COVID-19 pandemic shook up the entire state, cancelling all high school spring sports and denying athletes the kind of offseason preparation they’d usually engage in during camps, scrimmages and workouts.
Colorado High School Activities Association’s plans to push football and multiple other fall sports to the newly dubbed Schedule C — late winter and early spring — was not met warmly by many schools statewide, leading to an adjustment to allow schools to play a shortened fall football schedule.
The battle involved is only one reason MoCo head coach Lance Scranton said the season ahead will be a unique one.
“We’re just looking forward to even being able to play,” he said.
With four of the six teams that last year constituted the 2A Western Slope League opting to stick with Schedule C, Moffat County and Delta — voted the No. 1 fall team in 2A’s coaches poll — were realigned with Englewood, Woodland Park, Elizabeth and Middle Park to form the 2A West.
MCHS will host Englewood Oct. 16 for the home opener, with Friday night home games set for Oct. 30 with Woodland Park and Nov. 6 with Delta. Saturday afternoon road games take place Oct. 24 in Elizabeth and Nov. 14 in Granby.
“It’s going to be a challenge, but we’re used to traveling,” Scranton said. “Every team we’re playing has only had as much time to prepare as we have, so there’s a heightened sense of trying to get things done. That makes it a little more challenging as coaches. We’re used to installing certain packages we think will work against certain teams, but we’ve had none of that this year.”
Delta is the only team MCHS has faced in recent years, with the 2019 Panthers losing the conference title to Rifle, only to beat Basalt in the 2A state semifinals and later fall to Sterling 27-19 in the finals.
Now ranked third in 2A, Sterling’s 12-1 run last season included a postseason blowout of the Bulldogs, 56-14, MoCo’s return to the playoffs after a three-year drought.
The Dogs went 5-5 in 2019, and despite going 1-4 in league play, a 4-0 start to the schedule was indicative of a hugely competitive 2A WSL, with MCHS, Rifle, Basalt and Delta the only four schools in the 2A division to remain undefeated before starting the conference stage.
Losing only six seniors to graduation, time will tell how returning players handle the new conditions. The Bulldog roster is heavy on seniors compared to last year, with 10 upperclassmen, including returners Joe Campagna, Daniel Cruz, Corey Scranton, Chris Sanderson, Chris Maneotis, Donnie Quick, and Blake Juergens.
Also joining the squad this year are seniors Brian Gonzales and Chris Cox, plus transfer student Caleb Frink, who moved to Craig from Parachute. Besides the abundance of senior talent, coach Scranton noted that the roster this season is more robust altogether with 54 players, with fierce competitors at all grade levels.
“It’s a lot of new faces, so that’s exciting,” Scranton said.
Besides the varsity lineup, coaches are also organizing C-Team games to provide more preparation for younger athletes.
The season ahead is one that will both be fun and full of unknowns, he added, with virtually all teams in the dark about what to expect in their first week.
“It’s gonna be exciting for both sides,” Scranton said.
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