Cowboys win in Bailey, host semifinal game in Starbuck Stadium
Meeker | The Meeker High School football team continues to roll, remaining undefeated after a 28-15 victory over the Platte Canyon Huskies in the quarterfinal round of the 2016 1A Colorado Football State Championship playoffs last Saturday in Bailey. The 11-0 and No. 1 seeded Meeker Cowboys will host the No. 4 seeded Bennett Tigers this Saturday in Starbuck Stadium at 1 p.m.
The Cowboys have become road warriors winning seven games of their games this season on the road.
“We have definitely been road tested but after a long bus trip our kids were able to perform well against a hard-nosed group of kids that were 9-1,” Meeker head football coach Shane Phelan said after his team’s win in the quarterfinals. “We (coaches) were figuring we have traveled more than 2,500 miles this season.”
The Cowboys have not lost on their new field in Starbuck Stadium in four games and it will be the site of a second playoff game, after a first round playoff win against Ellicott.
Against the Huskies, the Cowboys used a balanced offensive attack and an aggressive defense to win, although neither team scored in the first quarter.
“We were able to move the ball effectively, except where we stalled out in a couple of spots,” coach Phelan said. “We need to capitalize on scoring opportunities.”
One of those opportunities was on the first possession, where the Cowboys scored but it was called back because of a holding penalty and Meeker ended up turning the ball over on downs after a trick play on fourth and 14 was unsuccessful.
The Cowboys got on the board first with a touchdown pass from junior quarterback Logan Hughes to senior running back Casey Turner, less than three minutes into the second quarter.
The Huskies moved the ball down the field, with the help of penalties by the Cowboys and they were even able to score a touchdown but it too was called back because of a Husky penalty. Meeker capitalized on their mistake, when Doak Mantle intercepted the ball and returned it more than 60 yards to set up Meeker’s second touchdown, another touchdown pass, this time to senior Cole Brown. Mantle ran in the two point conversion and the Cowboys led 14-0 at halftime.
Meeker’s defense gave the ball back to its offense early in the third quarter when senior Chase Rule
caused a fumble, which was recovered by Turner. Hughes hit Brown for a big gain to the 15 yard line, where Hughes then connected with senior Sheridan Harvey and the Cowboys led 20-0 but not for long.
The Huskies returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, added a two-point conversion and the score was 20-8 with 9:35 left to play in the third quarter.
The Cowboys drove down the field and capped it with another touchdown pass to Harvey, then Hughes added the two-point conversion and Meeker led 28-8 at the end of the third quarter.
The Huskies would score one more time late in the fourth quarter to end the game 28-15.
Hughes completed 11 of 13 for 212 yards and four touchdowns. Harvey was the Hughes’ main target, catching seven passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns. Mantle rushed for 88 yards on 18 carries and Rule led the Cowboys on defense with 24 tackles, Turner was in on 19 and senior Hunter Garcia was in on 12.
Coach Phelan gave credit to his younger players and his coaching staff for much of his team’s success this season.
“A lot of our success is due to our younger players running scout team, giving us a great group to practice against,” Phelan said. “And we also have a really good coaching staff and we are blessed to have the group we have.”
Phelan expects the Bennett team to be similar in style to Platte Canyon, only bigger.
“They are similar to Platte Canyon in that they like to run it and run it and they are very effective at it,” coach Phelan said. “They are really big and talented at the quarterback and running back position and we are excited about the matchup and the opportunity to play at home in front of our fans. We have a great group of tough, hard-nosed kids and they make it fun.”
“If we can win Saturday, we will host the championship game,” he said.