Matadors start slow, win football opener
Having not participated in as much as a scrimmage, coach Tom Minnick was expecting a slow start to Saturday's season opener against Ellsworth Community College at Pueblo, Colo., in the Mile High Shootout.
The Arizona Western coach got what he expected.
It took the Matadors almost 13 minutes to score their first points, but they eventually got rolling in a 49-14 win over the Panthers.
Cedric McCloud struggled after getting the start at quarterback, completing three of nine passes for just 20 yards. The Matadors got most of their scoring with Kendall Barnes at quarterback, including a 20-yard pass to Shaquan Curenton to put them ahead 14-0 with 4:10 left in the second quarter. Tight end Emmanuel Bibbs, the backup last year, had three catches to tie Curenton for the team lead. Last season, Matador tight ends combined for three receptions all season.
J.C. Baker handled most of the rushing duties for the Matadors but struggled, running 24 times for 46 yards. He also played quarterback in the Matadors' version of the Wildcat offense, running for a score and passing for another out of that formation.
Teddy Monroe had seven carries for 62 yards and a score, padded by a 52-yard run in the fourth quarter. Monroe's first score was on his first carry of the game on AWC's only points of the first quarter.
One of the specialties of the 2011 Matadors — which lost the national championship game 55-47 to East Mississippi — was defense and special team scores. Nate Willis continued that Saturday, returning an interception 1 yard for a score. Andre O'Neil returned a punt 82 yards, but fumbled on the 2-yard-line to prevent another defensive or special teams score.
The Matadors are off next week then open their Western States Football League slate at Pima Sept. 15.