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MEEKER I Game three of this football season was a lot like game one for the Cowboys.
They won big.
And they shut down the other team in the process.
Playing their second Saturday game of the season — they will play their last one this Saturday against the Fruita Monument junior varsity — the Cowboys clobbered Center 43-20 at Olathe.
In the season opener Sept. 4 — also played on a Saturday — Meeker won by a similar score of 41-24.
“It was a lot like the first game,” said first-year coach Jeff Palmer. “We started off a little slow in the first quarter, then we exploded in the second quarter.”
In both the first and third games of the season, the Cowboys’ first-team offense and defense were dominating. The other teams did most of their scoring against the Cowboy reserves.
“Our first team has played nine quarters, basically, and the first-team defense has given up 14 points in nine quarters and the first-team offense has scored 98 points in nine quarters,” Palmer said.
In the second game of the season, Meeker lost to Monte Vista 14-10.
Palmer was pleased with the way the Cowboys responded after the home-game loss to Monte Vista.
“A lot of times, after a tough loss like we had, you can come out really flat the next week,” Palmer said. “We talked all week about staying focused and keeping our minds on the task at hand and bouncing back.”
The Cowboys scored one touchdown in the first quarter Saturday — a 25-yard run by Toby Casias. Victor Villalpando kicked the extra point.
But in the second quarter, the Cowboys kicked it into high gear, scoring four times, three of those on runs by fullback Alema Atoafa. He scored on runs of 11, 28 and 18 yards, with Villalpando adding the PATs.
“He had a monster game,” Palmer said of Atoafa, a senior captain, who plays linebacker on defense. “He did a little bit of everything. He had 12 carries for 170 yards, which averaged to like 14 yards a carry. He also had seven tackles, he caused a fumble and recovered a fumble.”
Jared Frantz caught a 7-yard pass from Trevor Matrisciano for another Meeker touchdown in the second quarter of Saturday’s game, and Villalpando kicked the PAT.
Palmer played the reserves in the second half, until Center pulled to within two touchdowns, scoring 20 points in the fourth quarter.
“The JV kids didn’t play too bad in the third quarter, but we gave up some points in the fourth, so I had to stick the varsity back in,” Palmer said.
Meeker’s defense caused six fumbles and intercepted three passes. Ryan Wix had six solo tackles, two assists and recovered two fumbles. Frantz, Jake Nieslanik and Charles Scherbarth intercepted passes.
“We thought we could take advantage of some things they did on offense,” Palmer said. “Rather than going with a regular alignment, we had the defensive ends move in a little and shoot the gap. It seemed to disrupt their offense.”
Atoafa scored Meeker’s final touchdown of the game, a 20-yard in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys added the two-point conversion.
“He’s a big strong kid,” Palmer said of Atoafa. “He runs hard.”
Meeker, 2-1, will play its final non-conference game Saturday. Kickoff is 1 p.m. at Starbuck Stadium.
“I’m happy we were on the winning side (last Saturday),” Palmer said. “Obviously, we’d like to be 3-0, but we’ll take 2-1.”