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MEEKER I It wasn’t the finish they hoped for, but in spite of a lopsided loss to end the season, the Cowboys can still hold their heads high.
“With all the injuries and young players playing at the end of the year, 5-4 (the team’s final record) was probably about as well as we could have done,” said first-year coach Jeff Palmer. “Injuries are tough. It’s not like we’re a 5A school and have 100 kids on the football team. We get one kid go down and he might be starting both ways and play special teams. It’s hard to replace.”
Meeker saw the season and any hope of making the playoffs come to an end with a 46-6 loss last Friday against league-champion Hotchkiss.
“We played hard. I don’t think we ever gave up, even against Hotchkiss when we were down 40 to something, we didn’t give up,” Palmer said.
At one point in the season, Meeker had a 4-1 record and its offense was averaging 40 points a game while the defense was limiting other teams to 15 points a game.
But then the injury bug hit. Starting players lost for the season included the team’s starting quarterback, running back and a lineman. All three players started on both offense and defense.
“You hate to see all these injuries and play these young kids, but at the same time a lot of these young kids got some valuable experience,” Palmer said.
Which gives Palmer hope for the future.
“We have a lot of kids who got some big-game experience who will be back next year,” Palmer said. “It should be a good team to coach and a fun team to watch next year.”
Meeker’s lone score Friday came on a touchdown run in the fourth quarter by Ryan Wix, who rushed for 82 yards on seven carries. Alema Atoafa added 70 yards on 20 carries, pushing him over the 1,000 yard mark for the season, with 1,029 yards.
“That’s quite an accomplishment,” Palmer said. “I feel really good for him.”
Atoafa and Wix were among the seniors who played in their last game.
“I talked to the team after the game and said this is the toughest time of the year, not because it ended with a loss, or not because we’re not going to the playoffs, but saying goodbye to those seniors who gave so much to the program over the last few years,” Palmer said. “Even being a first-year coach, I became pretty attached to these seniors and it’s tough to see them go. They’re more than just good football players. They are good kids.”