8-man football: Hoehne builds big lead, tops John Mall for state title

(Marcus Hill)

PUEBLO — Well, Thursday’s 8-man state football championship served as a barnburner for one team.

That just so happened to be the Farmers of Hoehne High School.

Hoehne left little intrigue in their 64-40 win against No. 3 John Mall at Neta & Eddie DeRose Thunderbowl.

The No. 1-seeded Farmers trailed 6-0 after giving up a kick off return to Elton Chavez in the game’s first drive and then fumbled it out of the end zone on their first possession.

After that, John Mall struggled to contain Hoehne’s offense, which came in averaging 57 points per game.

Hoehne scored the next 36 points in the first half and kept John Mall at bay on the way to title number four in school history.

“Ever since the schedule came out we were talking about it,” said Hoehne’s Dairo Vezzani. “During the summer, after COVID hit, we went to the gym and went to the field to run routes and to stay in shape. We wanted to make sure we were ready if we had football this year. This shows we were.”

Hoehne players attributed nerves to the shaky start, but the Farmers hit their stride following their opening drive.

Vezzani scored the team’s first touchdown on a 14-yard reception and followed with a 30-yard pick-6 to pay dirt in the first quarter to build a 14-6 advantage.

“Once we got some momentum, everything started to click,” Vezzani said. “We believed in ourselves and stuck together as a team to show we could win this.”

After Grant Arellanes made it 22-6 on a 12-yard run, Weston Hill ripped a pair of big scampers to build their advantage.

Hill’s runs of 76 and 60 yards came on back-to-back drives and gave Hoehne a 36-6 lead with 3:47 left in the half.

John Mall outscored Hoehne 34-28 in the second half, but the Farmers earned running clock after they built a 64-24 lead in the third with 1:10 on the clock.

From there, Hoehne players watched as time dwindled and they avenged their previous loss in the title game.

Players hugged on the sidelines and gazed at the scoreboard to realize what they brought to fruition.

“This is everything I wanted from high school football in a nut shell,” Hill said. “We went to a (title game) my sophomore year and didn’t win. It was one hell of an experience both times. This one’s a little better.”