Meeker Mustangs race into season

MEEKER — The Meeker Mustangs, division one (third and fourth graders) and division two (fifth and sixth graders), demanded attention as they took the field in Rifle Sunday afternoon for the first games of the season. Playing against more experienced teams in the league, both teams showed their ability to play football with speed, pride and heart.
The younger Mustangs, with only three returning players from last year, headed off against Parachute. Meeker’s offensive line of Chase Rule, Jerrick Garza, Uri Goedert, Caleb Bradford, Mathew Niemietz, Cole Brown and Cody Nielsen was unstoppable as they fended off the Parachute defense and made it possible for quarterback Casey Turner to lead the Mustangs to their first touchdown, run by Doak Mantle. That was followed with two more touchdowns by Sheridan Harvey with the extra two points gained by Casey Turner.
A 30-yard return kick by Mantle proved that this young Mustang team was here to play. Parachute showed its experience as the game went into the second half and tied the young Mustangs. Jacob Pelloni made an amazing tackle in the fourth quarter and stopped Parachute’s top runner in his tracks. As the clock ran down, Parachute squeaked in a touchdown with less then three minutes left to win 25-19.
“The Mustangs played great,” said head coach Dan Ilgen.
The older Mustang team, with 14 returning players, took the field to square off against Rifle. The older Mustangs’ defensive line of Raul Lopez, Colt Lewis, Greg Rohn, Noah Overton, Kash Atwood, Austin Bradford and Tyler Pollack quickly turned the ball over to the Mustangs’ offense.
Quarterback T.J. Shelton drove the offense up the field as runners Tristan Pelloni and Jake Phelan kept driving for more yards. Shelton ran in for the first Mustang touchdown with the offensive line holding off the Bears. In the first quarter, Shelton scored again as he ran a kick return for 70 yards. Dillon Frantz scrammbled to get open for the extra two points to put Meeker ahead 14-0.
Lopez stopped anyone in his or another Mustangs’ path as Rifle’s quarterback was sacked repeatedly. Devon Pontine and Sam Nieslanik repeatedly ran down their opponents to stop the Bears from scoring. But by halftime, the Bears came clawing back to tie the game. Pelloni pushed and twisted up the field, but as the clock continued to run, Rifle reversed its way into the Mustangs’ end zone. The older Meeker Mustangs lost in the last two minutes of the game, 14-20.
“We played well for the first game of the season,” said head coach Dave Cole.
Both Mustang teams will be playing at Meeker High School Sept. 21 and Sept 28. Division one plays at 2 p.m. and division two at 4 p.m.