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MEEKER I It’s down to a one-game season.
Even then, the Cowboys will need some help.
“We had to beat Hayden (to qualify for the playoffs),” Meeker football coach Jeff Palmer said. “Now we have to beat Hotchkiss. That would look really good on our resume for a wild-card berth.”
Last Friday’s 49-16 homecoming loss against Hayden didn’t help matters. Still, Palmer said the Cowboys could hold their heads high.
“The one thing I told the kids before the game was if you leave everything out on the field and it doesn’t work out, we have nothing to be ashamed of,” Palmer said. “I think we did. I think everyone gave everything we had.”
But mistakes hurt the Cowboys. Meeker trailed 14-9 at halftime, but was outscored 35-7 in the second half.
“We had some costly penalties and we pretty much gave them both of their (first-half) touchdowns,” Palmer said. “It was kind of like the Broncos and Raiders (on Sunday). Once it starts going bad, it all goes bad at once.”
Meeker scored first on a 19-yard run by Alema Atoafa, who rushed for 119 yards and needs 41 to reach the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Victor Villalpando booted a 39-yard field goal in the second quarter for the Cowboys and Cole Steiner caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Nate Walsh in the fourth quarter.
The loss was Meeker’s second in three games, all against league opponents. League-leading Hotchkiss has a 7-1 record, with its only loss coming against Aspen, a 3A school.
“From everything I hear, they’re pretty darn good,” Palmer said of Friday’s opponent.
All three of the Cowboys’ losses this season have come at home.
“We’re undefeated on the road,” Palmer said. “It’s those home games that are giving us problems.”
That and the injury bug.
Meeker had sophomores starting at six positions last Friday, due to injuries.
“The good news is that it will be really good for the future for the program,” Palmer said. “With those sophomores getting a lot of game experience this year, that will pay off next year and the year after. With all of the experience these sophomores are getting, we ought to be pretty good and hopefully I’ll be allowed to stay around and coach them.”
Palmer can’t help but think how this season might have been different if not for injuries to key players.
“Oh, yeah, I think about it every night,” he said of the what-ifs. “If we had our whole healthy team, I’d be disappointed at 5-4 (which would be the Cowboys’ record if they lose Friday). But with all the injuries and having so many young kids, it’s probably what I would’ve expected.”
And Meeker still has an outside chance of making the playoffs.
“Anything is possible,” Palmer said. “The last three weeks in a row, the No. 1 (college-ranked) team has lost, so it is possible. We just have to have that mindset. We just need that one shot.”