MEEKER | For a seventh time in the history of Meeker High School’s football program, the team played for a state championship win last weekend. But the school’s first state team title continues to elude the Cowboys as they lost to the Strasburg Indians 14-34 in front of a large crowd in Starbuck Stadium.
“When you get to the championship game, you have really good players and a really good team lined up across the field from you,” Meeker head coach Shane Phelan said of the Indians. “We had trouble with their speed and we just couldn’t make enough plays.”
Like they did all season, the Cowboys made several big plays in the title game but the Indians made more and they scored five touchdowns in the first half.
The Cowboys moved down the field after receiving the opening kickoff, with big passing gains to Doak Mantle and Sheridan Harvey from quarterback Logan Hughes, who put the Cowboys on the scoreboard first, as he ran for a 20-yard touchdown. Hughes then connected with senior Cole Brown for the two-point conversion and the Cowboys led 8-0 after just four minutes of play.
The Indians needed less than two minutes to pull within one of the Cowboys after starting at midfield and scoring on a 30-yard run, then kicking the extra point to make the score 8-7, with 6:43 left to play in the first
The Indians capitalized on their next four possessions, scoring each time after the Cowboys were forced to punt once and threw three interceptions on their final four possessions of the first half, when Meeker trailed 34-8.
The Cowboys got the crowd back into the game, when Hunter Garcia recovered an Indian fumble on the first play of the second half. The crowd roared when Mantle quickly capitalized on the turnover, as he scored what would be the final touchdown of the game with 10:33 seconds left to play in the third quarter.
Both teams turned the ball over to the other on their final possessions, with Meeker’s Garrett Frantz recovering a fumble when Strasburg was on the Cowboys’ five-yard line, late in the game.
“Our determination and fight was there the whole game from everyone, which is a testament to our players and our community,” coach Phelan said. “I’m proud of them, they did everything we asked of them and I hope our younger guys learn from our seniors. You can’t be around these seniors and not learn though, how to work hard. They put in a lot of time in the off season to get where they are.”
Cowboy seniors Harvey, Brown, Garcia, Casey Turner, Tanner Slaugh, Chase Rule, Ty Gibson and Korey Hood, helped their team win more games (12) and finish with the best record (12-1) of any team in the history of Meeker’s football program, the closest being Meeker’s 1968 championship team, when they finished with a 10-1-1 record.
“Anytime you lose a group of seniors like this, it leaves a big void but it is also an opportunity for someone else,” coach Phelan said. “Hopefully our younger players learned from them and they can keep Meeker’s winning tradition going.”