Cowboys host Hotchkiss for league

36-7 win over Hayden Tigers ensures Meeker of 2009 playoff berth

MEEKER I With a 36-7 victory against the Tigers in Hayden last week, the Meeker Cowboy football team clinched a playoff berth and will host the Hotchkiss Bulldogs for the Northwest League championship in Starbuck Stadium on Friday.
The Cowboys dominated the Tigers, scoring three touchdowns in the first half and shutting out the Tigers until late in the game.
“Before the game, we talked about playing hard-nose, physical football and I thought we did that,” head Shane Phelan said of his team’s overall performance.
The Cowboys immediately established their running game, with senior running backs Tyrell Gerloff and Mitch Jacob. Quarterback Colton Brown passed once to classmate Brock Campbell, before Brown scored the first touchdown from 18 yards out.
Thanks to senior defensive lineman Jarret Waldref, the Tigers lost yardage on their next three downs before punting back to the Cowboys.
Meeker started running the ball again, to set up a couple of pass plays, one completed to Campbell and another to junior Trevor Matrisciano for a total of 18 yards. The Cowboys drove the ball down to the 3-yard line, where Gerloff ran it in for the score and Jacob added the two-point conversion to give Meeker a 14-0 lead, one play into the second quarter.
“We physically controlled the line of scrimmage and were able to move the ball,” Phelan said. “Our running opened up our passing game.”
After a sack by senior Johnny Wix, the Tigers, still without a first down, punted again to the Cowboys, but for the first time the Cowboys were unable to score. The Tigers earned their first, first down but fumbled the ball on the next play, which was recovered by Wix.
Meeker drove the ball with runs from Jacob, Gerloff and junior Cole Steiner, before Gerloff scored again, with Jacob adding the two-point conversion to put the Cowboys up 22-0 at the end of the first half.
The Cowboys came out strong in the second half, receiving the ball and driving down the field for another touchdown, this time by Jacob from 3 yards out to make the score 28-0.
After another punt by the Tigers, Meeker again drove down the field, with big completions to Jacob and Steiner before Campbell scored on an option play, then Steiner adding the two-point conversion. The Cowboys took a 36-0 lead into the final quarter.
Matrisciano played quarterback most of the fourth quarter and several other backups got into the game.
“It was nice to get some other guys some work,” Phelan said.
The Tigers did score in the final quarter but it was too little, too late and the Cowboys won 36-7, to set up the league championship in the final regular season game with Hotchkiss.
Both Meeker and Hotchkiss are undefeated in league games, with the Bulldogs yet to lose a game this season. Meeker has only lost one game, early in the season, to the defending 3A state champion Olathe Pirates.
“Hotchkiss runs the ball well, they have a good quarterback and senior leadership,” Phelan said. “They had a good run last year, making it to the quarterfinals and a lot of those guys are back this year.
“Defense will be the key this week,” Phelan said. “… smart, good defense.”
The winner of Friday’s league championship will also host a game in the first round of the state playoffs.
“We are excited about seeing them,” Phelan said. “Playing good teams is a lot of fun.”