Cowboys beat Titans, travel to Holyoke next

Meeker High School senior Elijah Newman, a 6’4”, 210-pound defensive tackle for the Cowboys positions himself to block a pass about to be thrown by Coal Ridge quarterback Oscar Salazar (5). Newman finished with four tackles, two pass deflections and his defense only allowed the Titans one touchdown. Bobby Gutierrez Photo

MEEKER | In the second game of the season, the 1A Meeker Cowboys took on the bigger 2A Titans from Coal Ridge and after a hard fought three quarters of play, the Cowboys wore them down and won 30-7. Meeker will now travel across the state to play the Dragons in Holyoke on Saturday.
“They are a good football team and I’m sure they are going to have a good year,” Meeker head football coach Shane Phelan said of the Titans. “It was another good test for us at home.”
The Titans were first to score after kicking off and stopping Meeker’s offense on its first possession. Coal Ridge drove the ball 70 yards and kicked the extra point to take a 7-0 lead after about six minutes of play.
“The beginning is always difficult not knowing your opponent,” coach Phelan said. “We kept battling, then settled in, it took us a little while to find our grove.”
Senior quarterback Logan Hughes pitched the ball to classmate Doak Mantle for a big gain on Meeker’s next possession, then threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to another classmate, Trapper Merrifield to get on the scoreboard. Mantle ran in for two extra points and the Cowboys took a 8-7 lead, which they would protect and build on.
Meeker’s defense stepped up and gave the ball back to its offense, which scored again when Mantle ran in for his first touchdown on fourth and goal, giving his team a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The score would remain 14-7 until the Cowboys scored again in the fourth quarter.
“We kept shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties but we maintained our composure and were able to punch it into the end zone a couple more times and pull away from them,” coach Phelan said.
Hughes scored from 20 yards out, early in the fourth quarter and Eli Hanks added the two point conversion, extending Meeker’s lead to 22-7.
Hughes stripped the ball on the Titans’ next possession and Mantle recovered it at the 22 yard line, where Hughes again connected with Merrifield for another touchdown. Mantle ran in the final two points of the game, with more than nine minutes to play.
“We’re still a work in progress and playing a lot of guys, so we are fresh but learning on the go, because they don’t get a lot of reps,” Coach Phelan said of his team’s depth. “We hope to continue to improve as the year progresses. It will make us better later, to play a lot of guys now.”
Coach Phelan said his offense was “balanced” again, as Hughes completed 12 of 18 passes, two for touchdowns, to five different receivers, 153 yards and no interceptions, while seven Cowboys carried the ball 34 times for 170 yards and two touchdowns.
“They all played hard and did a lot of good things,” coach Phelan said of his team.
Merrifield led with six catches for 83 yards, senior Stephen Walsh caught three passes for 45, while seniors Mantle, Jacob Pelloni and Jerrick Garza all caught a pass from Hughes.
Mantle led the team with 78 yards on 11 carries and one touchdown, Hanks rushed eight times for 36 yards and junior Jorgen Stagg ran with the ball four times for 21 yards. Hughes ran six times for 22 yards, sophomore Jacob Shelton gained four yards, as did freshman Jeremy Woodward and junior Tannen Kennedy carried the ball once for five yards.
Kennedy led the defense with 17 tackles, including two sacks and Tevin Pelloni was in on 12. Brennan Jensen, Hughes, Mantle and Garrett Frantz, all finished with six, Jacob Pelloni was in on seven, James Amick was in on five, while senior Elijah Newman was in on four and he had two pass deflections.
The Cowboys will now travel to the far northeast corner of the state to play the Holyoke Dragons in a non-conference game Saturday, starting at 1 p.m.
“We will get to see a lot of Colorado,” coach Phelan said.