MEEKER I It was the first home game of the season, which turned into the first win of the season for the Meeker High School football team, as they defeated the 2A Coal Ridge Titans 36-6 in Starbuck Stadium on Sept. 11.
Meeker (1-2), will have a bye this week, then travel to Golden the following week to play Holyoke on a neutral field.
The Cowboys lost the first two games of the season after leading the first half, then they were unable to score in the second half and lost both games but it was different when the team played in front of their hometown fans for the first time. The Cowboys amassed more than 400 yards offensively and more than 500 overall.
“The kids played a lot better,” Meeker head coach Shane Phelan said of his team’s first win. “We were able to get a few things rolling in the second half, which is exciting to see.”
Coach Phelan gave credit to his linemen for the team’s success, on both sides of the ball.
“We have been asking a lot of our linemen and the biggest improvement, the key to our win, was our line,” he said of Caleb Bradford, Eli Newman, Kash Atwood, Tyler Ilgen and Chase Rule. “We successfully ran the ball because of them and since most of them also play defense, they were able to change the line of scrimmage on defense too.”
It was Meeker’s defense setting the tone, recovering a fumble in the first quarter then capitalizing offensively with a touchdown pass.
“Our defense has played all season,” Phelan said. “We have some good-hard-nose kids who keep finding ways to make plays and we’ll hang our hat on them until our offense gets going but we saw some sparks the other night.”
Sparks were flying in the first half, as the Cowboys scored four touchdowns and led 28-0 at halftime.
After Casey Turner, who led the Cowboys with 10 tackles, recovered a fumble, quarterback Logan Hughes connected with Hunter Garcia for a 29-yard touchdown pass and a quick 6-0 lead.
Garcia caught three passes and also gave his team great field position twice, returning punts, including one for 49 yards.
One of Garcia’s returns set up Meeker’s second score, T.J. Shelton ran in from the eight-yard line and he also ran in the two-point conversion.
The Cowboys capitalized on Trapper Merrifield’s interception when Shelton ran for another touchdown and Hughes connected with Cole Brown for the two-point conversion.
Brown’s interception on the Titans’ next possession set up Meeker’s fourth touchdown of the first half, a screen pass to Shelton, who broke several tackles on his way to the end zone from 53 yards out. Shelton also scored Meeker’s final touchdown in the third quarter and Doak Mantle added the two-point conversion.
Shelton carried the ball 19 times for 177 yards, caught one pass for 53 yards and scored four touchdowns. Hughes, Garcia, Mantle, Ty Gibson, Eli Hanks and senior Devon Pontine also ran the ball.
Hughes completed 11 of 19 passes to five different receivers for 145 yards. Brown, Garcia, Pontine and Shelton all caught passes and Sheridan Harvey led the pack with four catches.
Meeker’s JV team played most of the second half and then played their first game in Rifle on Monday.
“They did all right against a good program,” Phelan said of the 28-8 loss to the Bears.
Phelan said they will use the bye week to heal some bumps and bruises and “iron out some wrinkles.”