Yuma football opens 2022 season

It is already time to strap it on for the Yuma High School football team.
The YHS football complex will be hot and wild tonight, August 25, as Yuma kicks off the 2022 season against the Class 2A Sterling Tigers. Game time is 7 p.m.

“These early games are so important,” coach Kelly Seward said, alluding to the challenging North Central Conference gauntlet coming up later. “We have to find ways to win these early-season games.
“The hardest thing is not only is Sterling a bigger school, but they want to throw the ball around so much. We just don’t see it that much in our league.”
He added that the Tigers also have plenty of big bodies in the trenches, so it will be an interesting challenge for Yuma in its season opener.
The program held its annual Red-White Scrimmage last Friday. Seward said the players were split into as even teams as much as possible.
“I think kids showed they’re ready to go,” he said, noting this is the fifth season is running the same offensive and defensive schemes, making it easier to prepare for the season. “These kids don’t know any different now.”
Yuma football has had three consecutive winning seasons, including reaching the state quarterfinals last year. That run also featured the program’s first playoff win since 2013, and its first home playoff game since that same season.
Several key players are gone from that team, including all-state athlete Clay Robinson. However, Seward said it is time for others to step up, particularly with 13 seniors.
“They had to wait their time a little bit, but now it’s their time to shine,” he said. “Last year, let’s admit it, everyone in the state knew who was going to get the ball on third and four. This year on third and four, we have four viable options to go to.”
Yuma enters the season ranked No. 10 in the Class 1A preseason poll (CHASSNow.com rankings). Sterling, which won a state title a couple of years ago, is not ranked. Yuma’s ranking is only fifth best within its own conference, as Limon enters the season No. 1, Wray is No. 3, Wiggins No. 6 and Holyoke No. 9. Burlington is the only NCC team not in the Top 10.
“Isn’t that amazing,” Seward remarked. “There are going to be four teams from our conference that will be in the playoffs. At the end of the year, the RPI will be there. We just need some wins to back it up.”
Yuma’s non-conference schedule also includes Burns, Wyoming, Banning Lewis Academy (which had a winning season in 2021), and Brush, which is No. 4 in the 2A preseason poll.
“We’re playing quality teams,” Seward said.
Limon opens its season Friday night at home against Florence, Burlington opens Friday at La Junta, Wray is at Highland, Holyoke is at Strasburg in a big 1A first-game showdown, and Wiggins hosts Brush in a Morgan County Showdown.
Senior Nash Richardson will not be available for tonight’s season opener due to competing at the Colorado State Fair.
Seward said sophomore Silas Baucke will start at quarterback, and sophomore Jonathan Thomson will be the backup. Senior Kallen Blach will be the fullback, with seniors Jack Blecha and Ethan Goeglein splitting time at the running back slot. The wings will be seniors Daman Thornton and Jesus Ross. The “X” and “Y” (tight ends) will be senior Kevin Hermosillo and junior Hugo Montes.
Senior Ethan Gonzales usually would be in one of those spots, but classmate Victor Perez will see limited time tonight due to injury, so Gonzales will be at left guard. Junior Carson Lynch is the starting center, senior Cesar Varela at right guard, junior Pablo Becerra at right tackle, and senior Zeke Martinez at left tackle. Senior Nathan Etl also will rotate into the offensive line spots.
Defensively, Etl will anchor the line at nose guard, with Gonzales and Varela at the tackle spots. Inside linebackers are Blach and junior Trey Stegman, with Perez and Hermosillo manning the outside linebacker spots. Starting linebackers tonight will be Blecha and Ross, with senior Ethan Goeglein at strong safety and senior Daman Thornton at free safety.

Seward pointed out that Yuma also features one of the best place kickers in the state in senior Alex Lozano. A quality athlete, he also will find time on offense and defense.
“If we can stay focused and just keep the pedal to the floor, we should be able to compete with everyone on our schedule,” Seward said.
It all begins tonight, when the game-time temperature likely still will be in the 80s.