MEEKER | The Meeker Cowboys made it two games into the postseason before falling to the Centauri Falcons 41-6. The Cowboys struggled to get out of the gates on a warm November afternoon. Starting quarterback Ryan Phelan, junior, suffered a season-ending injury in the first playoff game against Buena Vista. In the second game of the playoffs, the duties fell to junior quarterback Brayden Garcia who took a late hit in the second quarter that resulted in a personal foul on the Falcons and injury to Garcia that kept him out of the rest of the game.
“The kids did well, we had the injury bug bite us this game, but we are really proud of their effort,” commented head coach Shane Phelan.
The Cowboys then looked to senior Jake Shelton who had not played quarterback since his freshman year. Ten games into the season the injuries were felt throughout the team.
Offensively the Cowboys passed for 67 yards led by Shelton and rushed for 129 yards led by Kelton Turner and Jeremy Woodward. Cole Rogers was the only Cowboy to score on a pass from Shelton. Meeker averaged 252 yards passing and 179 yards rushing and 30.4 points this year.
Centauri controlled the clock for much of the game and the defensive numbers are reflective. Four Cowboys had double-digit tackles: Ridge Willams and Colby Clatterbaugh each had 10, Tevin Pelloni had 11, and Turner had 13.
“The kids played hard but defensively we struggled and offensively we couldn’t get into the end zone, makes it hard to win a game,” said Phelan.
Regardless of the outcome in the final game, the Cowboys had a tremendous season, the best in the Western Slope League. Phelan talked about the year as a whole. “We didn’t finish like we wanted, but we are excited for another league championship, a fourth for this senior class, says a lot about those boys.”
Meeker suffered one loss during the regular season when Limon traveled to Meeker. “We plugged away all year, there was a small hiccup after Limon, but we faced the league strong,” said Phelan.
Meeker names were often listed as stat leaders across all classes in the state of Colorado throughout much of the year. The following Cowboys are named stat leaders in 1A: Phelan— No. 1 in passing, Woodward—16th in rushing, Rogers—No. 1 in receiving, Shelton No. 5 in receiving, Pelloni—13th in tackles, and Turner—No. 1 in interceptions.
The Cowboys now look to the rest of the 2019-2020 school year and winter and spring sports. Phelan encourages players to participate in sports “during both the winter and spring seasons so they continue to develop skills that will help on the field and stay in shape.”
Changes are coming next year for the Western Slope League. Two additional teams will be added: Gunnison and Roaring Fork (Carbondale). Both of these teams dropped their varsity programs and have only had junior varsity teams the past couple of years, and when they had varsity programs they were in class 2A. The Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) allowed them to come back with a varsity program a division down in 1A. According to the 2020-2021 CHSAA alignment bulletin, two teams from the Western Slope League will make it into the playoffs and automatically qualify for the bracket.
Photos by Tiffany Jehorek
By TIFFANY JEHOREK | Special to the Herald Times