MEEKER I After a 55-8 pounding of the Grand Valley Cardinals on Friday in Parachute, the Meeker Cowboys will host the Hotchkiss Bulldogs in Starbuck Stadium in the final game of the regular season. The game will have league and playoff implications.
Against Grand Valley, the Cardinals tried to shut down Meeker’s running game, which is led by senior T.J. Shelton, who currently has 1,291 yards rushing on the year. And while they couldn’t shut down the run, it did open up the passing lanes.
“They took a chance and put a lot of guys in the box,” Meeker head coach Shane Phelan said of the Cardinals’ defense. “We got a lot of receivers involved and were very happy with our passing game.
Sophomore quarterback Logan Hughes completed seven of 12 passes to five different receivers for 162 yards and three touchdowns. Hughes currently leads the league with more than 1,000 yards (1,011) passing.
Junior wide receiver Cole Brown caught three of Hughes’ passes, including one for a touchdown. Devon Pontine and Sheridan Harvey also caught touchdown passes from Hughes, Pontine from 26 yards out and Harvey’s touchdown catch covered 50 yards. Shelton and Hunter Garcia also caught a pass from Hughes.
Meeker scored 20 points in the first quarter, 15 in the second and the running clock (starts at a 40-point lead) started early in the third quarter.
“They (Cardinals) are a really young team with some good athletes,” Phelan said. “We got a lot of our younger players in the game and we’re pleased with the overall effort from top to bottom.”
Meeker’s offensive line continued to protect its quarterback and open holes for its running backs.
Shelton carried the ball 11 times, gained 130 yards and scored two touchdowns. Hughes also scored a rushing touchdown from 10 yards out, and freshman running back Eli Hanks scored two touchdowns, including a 78-yarder on the last play of the game.
Meeker senior Dillon Frantz led the Cowboys with eight tackles on defense, including one for a loss, and he also recovered a fumble. Pontine and Casey Turner each finished with seven tackles while Tyler Ilgen and Doak Mantle each recorded five.
The Cowboys have beaten Cedaredge, with whom they are currently tied for second with, behind Paonia.The top two teams from each league, plus four wild card teams will advance to the Colorado 1A State Football playoffs the following week.
“This game has playoff implications, and Hotchkiss is in the role of spoiler,” Coach Phelan said. “The bottom line is, we need to play well and take care of business at home.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday in Starbuck Stadium.