Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. A warm night under the lights at Boulder High School, and coach Beth Buglione’s first game as the first female football coach in Colorado. Other than the first, it was not a spectacular game, but it was a good showing by the Nederland High School Panthers’ team, which had only nine players dressed out for the night.
The Panthers took on the Justice Phoenix and lost, 44-13.
Phoenix came onto the field with the goalposts in sight and scored on the first drive as well as succeeding at a two-point conversion. After moving the ball to a first down in their first series, the Panthers were forced to punt and Justice took over on the 50-yard line. They were relentless in their drive to the end zone and scored again, and the score with two minutes to go in the first quarter, was Justice, 16, Nederland, 0.
Nederland began to breathe, and after quarterback Damon Vigil completed a pass to Taylor Hoffman, the Panthers moved down to the Justice 15 yard line. Hoffman secured the ball and leaped into the end zone to put six points on the board and Vigil kicked the extra point and it was a 16-7 game.
In the next drive, Justice had gained some yardage when Hoffman intercepted a pass, but the Panthers couldn’t profit from it and had to punt.
Ned’s defense held the Phoenix and once again Hoffman picked off a pass and this time took the ball into the end zone making it a three-point game, 16-13, with six minutes left in the first half. It was anybody’s game, but the eight Ned players who were on the field for every play were tired.
The Justice boys ran another series of first downs until they scored and then ran for the two-point conversion, widening the gap, 24-13.
Nederland received the kickoff but couldn’t move the ball and Justice took over on the Panther 28-yard line and scored with a touchdown pass.
The clock ran out and the half ended with the Panthers down 30-13.
The second half saw the Panther defense hunker down, holding the Phoenix to two touchdowns and two extra points which went unanswered.
The 44-13 final score was hard to take, but the Ned boys never stopped fighting even when they were down to seven players in the third quarter.
“I am incredibly proud of how our kids played Friday night. Not one of them gave up. We had nine eligible players and due to an injury played the last half with 8, and at times, 7. Our opponent said our kids were by the far the most respectful kids he’s ever spoken with after a game. That means everything,” said coach Buglione.
Nederland’s next game is at home this Saturday, Sept. 9, against Miami-Yoder beginning at 1 p.m. The Buffalos have a 0-2 record, having lost to Wiley and Las Animas.
Rushing: Taylor Hoffman, 10 carries for 69 yards, Adler Mueller, six carries for 27 yards, Aubrey Charleston, 10 carries for 21 yards.
Passing: Damon Vigil, three of 11 passes completed for 59 yards.
Receiving: Hoffman, three receptions for 59 yards.
(Originally published in the September 7, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)