GRANTS – When the Grants Pirates take to the field tonight, seeking their third-straight win, they’ll go in with the “Power of the Beard” behind them, and, fully realizing that they’ll have to topple the team of the school’s former coach Butch Branson, who left GHS to lead the Silver Fighting Colts.
“Butch Versus the Beard” anyone?
GHS offensive lineman Andrew Karinen has been sporting a rather rugged-looking beard all season long, one that’s not necessarily popular amongst his football brethren.
“He needs to shave it,” senior Daniel Sedillos said. “It’s just raggedy. Maybe he could make it look nicer, trim it or something. Or, maybe he gets his strength from it.”
Karinen would side with the latter assessment for the most part, even as he admits that he keeps the beard going as a bit of a superstition.
“I just grew a beard because I felt like it,” Karinen said. “Everyone wants me to get rid of it, but I’m going to wait until we make the playoffs, then I’ll dye it.”
That’s right, not an “if” the Pirates make the playoffs, but “when,” a nice thought of course, but one that will have to wait until later this season, until after tonight when the Pirates attempt to topple the undefeated Colts (3-0 overall).
To do so sounds like a huge challenge.
The Colts are a year removed from their semifinal appearance in the 3A state championship, and already are off to a good start with defeats of Cobre, Hope Christian and Tularosa. The Colts seem to offer a nice tandem of running back Dakota Bencomo and quarterback Derek Salas, both of whom have helped Silver greatly this season.
GHS head coach Dale Hooper said he liked his team’s chances against the Colts, and said that tonight’s outcome could hinge on the work in the trenches, something Karinen and crew seem to be ready for.
“Coaches have been saying these guys are strong, but maybe not as fast as our line,” Karinen said. “They’ll try and muscle us, but not necessarily make us tired. We go in with speed and we need to have more confidence so we can score more in the early stages of the game.”
Against Del Norte last week, during which the Pirates scored only seven first-half points, then held the Knights scoreless for the entire second half, Karinen said he started noticing that the Knights seemed to get worn out. He said the same could happen tonight.
“We’ve been better conditioned than any team we’ve played this year,” he said. “They get tired at the end and we can play the whole game. (The Knights) looked tired; they were standing different, not as aggressive, and their linebackers weren’t blitzing as much.”
Grants, meanwhile, blitzed the tar out of Del Norte’s quarterback, and ended up on the better end of the contest overall in another good performance for the Pirate “D.”
“The defense has really improved the last few weeks,” Sedillos said. “We made several mistakes (against Del Norte) but we made up for them with turnovers and shutting them out in the second half.”
Something the Pirates assuredly plan on doing against Silver tonight.
See Tuesday’s Beacon for a full recap of tonight’s contest.