Meeker gridders kick off season with 26-14 win; will play Rams on Friday

Meeker junior Robby Jensen (52) blocks defenders for his running back classmate T.J. Shelton during the season opener against the Rye Thunderbolts in Starbuck Stadium on Saturday. Shelton rushed for 142 yards, including a 97-yard touchdown on the second play of the game. The Cowboys host the 2A Roaring Fork Rams at Starbuck Stadium this Friday at 7 p.m.
MEEKER I The Meeker High School Cowboys opened the football season by defeating the Rye Thunderbolts, 26-14, on Saturday afternoon.
Meeker’s defense was solid, shutting out the Thunderbolts for three quarters. Its offense exploded early, scoring all their points in the first half.
Meeker will host the 2A Roaring Fork Rams in Starbuck Stadium on Friday evening, with the kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m.
“I was especially happy with our defensive performance,” head coach Shane Phelan said.
The Cowboy defense began making its coach happy after the opening kickoff as they kept the Thunderbolts from scoring with a goal-line stand.
Senior quarterback Jake Phelan, who missed most of last year because of a broken leg, started his team on the one-yard line and handed the ball off to junior running back T.J. Shelton, who gained a couple of yards on the first hand off, then sprinted 97-yards for a touchdown on the second.
“Our fast guy was faster than their fast guy,” Coach Phelan said of Shelton winning the foot race to the end zone.
Phelan ran in for the two-point conversion and the Cowboys took an early 8-0 lead.
Meeker’s defense held Rye again and the Cowboys scored again, this time on a 40-yard touchdown run by Raul Lopez, giving Meeker a 14-0 lead.
The Cowboys stopped the Thunderbolts again but turned the ball over with an interception. The defense held again and the Cowboys marched down the field, ending with a 28-yard touchdown run by Phelan late in the second quarter.
The Cowboy defense forced the Thunderbolts to punt again and junior Tristin Pelloni gave his team great field position with a 49-yard return. Meeker drove down the field and scored its final touchdown on a six-yard pass from Phelan to junior Devon Pontine.
Meeker led 26-0 at halftime then didn’t score again. They did allow Rye to score two touchdowns late in the game against the younger Cowboys substitutes, who were gaining experience.
“I was not pleased with how we came out in the second half and didn’t execute, but overall it was a good effort,” Coach Phelan said. “We did a lot of good things and we have a lot of things to improve on.
Shelton rushed 14 times for 142 yards and Phelan rushed for 86 yards while completing six passes, divided evenly to Lopez, Pontine and Pelloni for 83 yards.
Pontine led the defense with 17 tackles, four of them unassisted. Lopez was in on 14 tackles, sophomore Casey Turner got in on 13 and Shelton finished with nine.
Coach Phelan said his team remains healthy and that the team is are looking forward to playing the Rams on Friday.
“Roaring Fork has a good bunch of kids with a good coach, and they really put it to us last year,” he said. “We hope to compete better this year.”
Meeker’s JV team will play its first game of the season on Tuesday in Steamboat Springs.