Cowboys run over GJ JV in home opener

Cole Steiner prepared to haul in one of his four catches. Two of those receptions went for touchdowns as Meeker routed Grand Junction High School’s junior varsity 41-24 in Saturday’s season opener.

Cole Steiner prepared to haul in one of his four catches. Two of those receptions went for touchdowns as Meeker routed Grand Junction High School’s junior varsity 41-24 in Saturday’s season opener.
MEEKER I First game of the season. First-year coach. First varsity experience for many of the starters. First-game jitters?
No way.
Meeker, which lost six all-conference players from last season’s 8-3 team, showed Saturday the Cowboys still have plenty of firepower.
“We were real efficient with the ball,” said new coach Jeff Palmer after Meeker’s 41-24 season-opening win at Starbuck Stadium. “Overall, it was a good performance by the starters.”
The Cowboy starters put all 41 points on the board in the first half against Grand Junction High School’s junior varsity — and gave up none.
“The defense played great,” Palmer said. “We were able to shut ’em out (in the first half). That’s our goal every week. I would doubt they even had 25 yards of offense in the first half.”
Meeker caused five turnovers — two fumbles, two interceptions and a bad punt snap.
With a commanding 41-0 lead to start the second half, Palmer brought in his reserves.
“We started subbing liberally and that was the end of the scoring (for Meeker),” Palmer said. “It gave (the reserves) a little experience in a varsity game. Everybody played at least a couple of downs. If we had put our starters back out there, we would have kept scoring. I wasn’t trying to embarrass anybody.”
Grand Junction scored all of its points in the second half, against the Meeker reserves.
Meeker scored once in the first quarter, on a 3-yard pass from Trevor Matrisciano to freshman Kevin Eli.
“”He got his first touchdown in his first high school game,” Palmer said of Eli. “I think he was pretty excited about that.”
Matrisciano was seven of 11 passing with three touchdowns in his first varsity start as quarterback.
“He did a real good job managing the game and not putting us in any bad situations,” Palmer said of Matrisciano. “That’s the way I designed the offense, to keep the defense off balance. To find what formations they have trouble with and keep attacking it. The slants were there all day and we took advantage of that.”
Despite a 30-minute delay in the kickoff — due to a transportation problem with the Grand Junction High School team’s bus — it didn’t stop Meeker from getting off to a fast start. The Cowboys scored five times in the second quarter.
Tailback Toby Casias scored on runs of 10 and 26 yards, receiver Cole Steiner caught passes of 22 and 14 yards from Matrisciano, and Ryan Wix scored on a 1-yard defensive fumble recovery.
Victor Villalpando made five of six extra-point kicks.
“We have some talented receivers; some kids who can catch the ball,” Palmer said. “We have some Frisbee catching dogs on our team. That was a saying a radio host in North Carolina used to say when talking about receivers who catch the ball well.”
Steiner led all receivers with four catches — two of those for touchdowns. Tight end Jake Nieslanik caught two passes. Even Matrisciano caught a pass from Nieslanik — on a trick play to start the game.
Casias was the leading rusher with 58 yards, and fullback Alema Atoafa rushed for 46 yards.
Helping to lead the way for the running backs was senior lineman Wix.
“He had a heckuva game,” Palmer, a former lineman himself in his playing days, said of Wix. “On Toby (Casias’) second touchdown run, Ryan had one of the top five blocks I’ve seen by a high school lineman in all my years of coaching.”
Meeker was ranked No. 12 in 1A in the state preseason rankings.
“I think they base a lot of that on the previous year,” Palmer said. “This team hasn’t accomplished anything yet. That adds a little pressure, but that also adds excitement.”
Palmer hopes that excitement will carry over to Friday’s night home game against Monte Vista, ranked No. 23 in the preseason poll. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
Based on the way the Cowboys played Saturday, maybe they should push the start time back to 7:30.