MEEKER I Five years have passed since the Meeker High School football team qualified for post-season play, and a win in their final game of the regular season in Hotchkiss on Friday night would guarantee the Cowboys a playoff berth.
The Cowboys left nothing to chance and won 40-7. Now they will host the Ellicott Thunderhawks in Starbuck Stadium on Saturday.
“They were awful excited, knowing the winner punched their own ticket to the playoffs,” head coach Shane Phelan said of his team before the final game of the regular season. “They came out with desire, intensity and enthusiasm, then put it to them right at the start.”
The Cowboys scored all of their points in the first half, including two touchdowns in the first quarter and three in the second.
Senior quarterback Jake Phelan connected with junior Devon Pontine for Meeker’s first touchdown of the game, a 45-yard pass play. Meeker’s second touchdown came on the ground when T.J. Shelton ran 89 yards for a touchdown.
“It’s been like this all year; a team loads up the box to stop the run or they back up so we can’t throw it,” coach Phelan said. “So we just do the other one.”
After Shelton’s long touchdown run, the Bulldogs loaded up the box and the Cowboys went to the air.
Phelan completed three more touchdown passes in the second quarter to three different receivers, Raul Lopez, Tristin Pelloni and Cade Rowlett. Lopez and Pelloni each caught three passes, Pelloni totaled 110 yards and Lopez caught two extra-point conversions and Pontine caught another.
Dillon Frantz ran in a two-point conversion and so did Phelan, who finished the game completing nine of 12 passes for 207 yards and four touchdowns. Phelan has completed 69 of 121 passes for 1,102 yards and 16 touchdowns so far this season.
Shelton finished the game with 141 yards rushing, ending the regular season with 1,289 yards rushing, averaging 10.5 yards per carry and 20 rushing touchdowns.
Casey Turner leads the team in tackles this season and led the Cowboys with 17 tackles against the Bulldogs, Shelton finished with 10, Frantz and Hunter Garcia were each in on eight and Ruben Roybal finished with seven.
“They played well,” coach Phelan said. “All the hard work has paid off for the guys, and they are excited to play Saturday.”
He said the Thunderhawks “look a lot like us on film, with the same kind of weapons,” adding, “This time of year, everybody is good.”
Phelan would like to invite everyone to the game Saturday in Starbuck Stadium, with kickoff set for 1 p.m.
“We are hoping for a big turnout and to put on a good performance for our hometown fans,” he said.