MEEKER | When a league rival like the Paonia Eagles are in the house, a win is not just a win. When it’s a shutout, it’s a great day to be a Meeker Cowboy. Homecoming 2018 was one for the books, a 32-0 victory over the Paonia Eagles. At no time in recent history have the Cowboys shut down the Eagles so effectively.
Offensively and defensively, head coach Shane Phelan commented that it was a “good total team effort, we threw well, caught well, ran the ball well, and lots of contributions from many different players.” Rankings released by CHSAA Sunday evening moved Meeker up in the RPI ranking to number nine from number 13, and Paonia, falling the same number of spots from number eight to 12. Meeker now has a 4-2 record, 3-0 in the league.
Defensively only 172 total yards were allowed; of which 43 came through the air. Struggling for yardage and keeping the ball, Paonia attempted 11 passes and only connected on four. Tevin Pelloni, Ridge Williams and Brayden Woodward were responsible for three sacks and shaking up the Eagles. A collective effort of Tannen Kennedy with the most tackles against the Eagles, alongside James Amick and Luis Villalpando, who are leading the team in tackles for the year, kept them shut down and had “great energy and toughness in front of a big home crowd,” said Phelan.
On the other side of the ball, Ryan Phelan, leading the offense with 602 total yards, 222 through the air, had a solid arm, meeting his mark effectively with a completion rate of 0.882 percent. A rough game, there were multiple injuries, and the “next guy stepped up,” said Phelan, “there was a lot going on, but they focused on the task at hand.” With five touchdowns and a two-point conversion, the Cowboys racked up 32 points. Phelan connected with Stephen Walsh twice and Tristan Wille for 18 points, ran it in himself twice for an additional 12 points, and then completed one two-point conversion to Jeremy Woodward and the win was sealed.
There are two more league games remaining in the season. The Cowboys must beat Olathe (4-3) on Pirate turf to clinch the league title and have a guaranteed spot in the playoffs. Last weekend the Pirates dominated the Hotchkiss Bulldogs 42-0, but fell the previous week 41-0 to Paonia. When asked about Olathe and what the Cowboys are preparing for, coach Phelan said. They have a “good crew and we have been watching film, they will be a tough league opponent, and have 16 seniors on their squad. This week it is back to work for another important game.”
The JV squad has their final game at home on Oct. 22, hosting Roaring Fork, and will play eight-man ball. “I don’t believe the high school has ever played eight-man before,” said Phelan. “We will play on our regular field, and have one more week to get ready.”
By TIFFANY JEHOREK | Special to the Herald Times