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MEEKER | The Paonia Eagles had not lost a football game on their home field in Town Park since the 2013 season but last Friday the undefeated Meeker Cowboys broke the Eagles’ streak and scored four more Touchdowns for Kris, in the process. The victory clinched a Western Slope League title for the Cowboys, currently ranked No. 3 by Maxpreps.com, with one more game left in the regular season, which will be played in Meeker, in Starbuck Stadium, Friday at 7 p.m.
“We matched their intensity and we scored first, which was important for us to play with a lead and not have to chase them,” Meeker head coach Shane Phelan said of the win in Paonia’s Town Park under the lights.
The Cowboys have also been motivated to win and score Touchdown for Kris, a fundraiser the team came up with, for Barone Middle School teacher Kris Casey, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The team has solicited pledges from people in the community for each touchdown the varsity team scores in the four games played in October. So far, the Cowboys have scored 14.
“Most of our players had Kris in class, when they were in middle school and she is a big part of our community,” Coach Phelan said. “The kids want to raise awareness let Kris know they are thinking of her and keeping her in their thoughts.”
Doak Mantle scored Meeker’s first touchdown and Eli Hanks caught a shovel-pass from quarterback Logan Hughes for the two point conversion, to take the lead. The Eagles answered with a touchdown and the first quarter ended 8-7.
Hughes connected with Stephen Walsh in the second quarter for a touchdown and the two-point conversion, to give Meeker a 16-7 lead at half. Hughes connected with senior Trapper Merrifield for another touchdown in the third quarter and Hughes ran in another touchdown in the fourth, to match Paonia’s touchdown.
“We had a lot of guys do a lot of good things and it was the best game so far for our guys up front,” Coach Phelan said of offensive linemen Ridge Williams, Colby Shelton, Eli Newman, Kesston Hobbs and Brayden Woodard.
Hughes completed 12 of 14 passes for 204 yards and rushed for another 38 on eight carries. Mantle carried the ball 12 times for 49 yards and Hanks had 27 on six carries.
Merrifield caught five passes for 128 yards and one touchdown, Hanks had three catches and Walsh had two, including one for a touchdown and Jake Shelton also caught a pass.
Tevin Pelloni led the defense with 14 tackles, Luis Villalpando had 12, James Amick and Tannen Kennedy each had 11 and Mantle was in on nine tackles.
“We still have one more game against a league opponent, against a good, physical, strong-running team,” Coach Phelan said. “But the good news is, we play them at home and it is the last weekend to score more Touchdowns for Kris.”