Cowboys win opener in Starbuck Stadium 40-0

Host Coal Ridge Titans Friday

MEEKER | The last game the Meeker High School football team played in Starbuck Stadium was the 1A Colorado State Football Championship game, the only loss of the season last year for the Cowboys. They started their new season with a new team and a new group of seniors who led the Cowboys back to their winning ways in front of the always-supportive Cowboy fans.
The Cowboys started the season as the second ranked 1A team in the state to defending state champion Strasburg and they won back their home turf with an explosive 40-0 win over the Highland Huskies, also a 1A playoff team last year, last Friday in Starbuck Stadium. Meeker will again defend their home field against the bigger 2A Coal Ridge Titans this Friday in Starbuck Stadium starting at 7 p.m.
“In the first game, we don’t know what to expect,” Meeker head coach Shane Phelan said. “We were fortunate to come out and put some drives together on offense and we stymied them on defense, until we got it rolling our way in the second quarter.”
Meeker kicked off to start the game and forced the Huskies to punt their first possession. The Cowboys drove to the four-yard line, where Logan Hughes fumbled the ball back to the Huskies, the only turnover the Cowboys would give.
Hughes, who led the 1A state in passing last year with more than 2,500 yards, quickly redeemed himself by scoring the season’s first touchdown, running in from six yards out and also running in the extra points to give his team an 8-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Hughes then recovered a Husky fumble at the 50-yard line, then threw a bomb to his wide-open classmate Stephen Walsh, who was tackled at the four-yard line. Hughes then connected with senior Trapper Merrifield for the touchdown.
Meeker’s defense forced the Huskies to punt again and a bad snap over the punter’s head resulted in a two-point safety for the Cowboys and an 18-0 lead with 7:50 left to play in the first half.
Senior running back Doak Mantle, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards last year, scored Meeker’s next touchdown and Hughes connected with Kale Burke for the extra points, giving their team a 26-0 lead.
The Cowboys forced the Huskies to punt again with 3:17 to play in the first half. Hughes again connected with Merrifield in the end zone with 47 seconds to play in the second quarter, when sophomore Jake Shelton ran in the two-point conversion and the Cowboys took a 34-0 lead into halftime.
The Huskies kicked off to start the second half and Meeker started the running clock by leading 40-0 after a drive put Hughes into the end zone again.
“We did a good job up front and we were pretty balanced running and passing,” Coach Phelan said. “We had multiple players touch the ball.”
Hughes finished the game completing eight of 11 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns, he also ran for 74 yards and two touchdowns. Merrifield caught four passes, two for touchdowns and 78 yards, while Walsh caught two, Burke one, as did senior Jacob Pelloni and junior Andy Kracht.
Mantle rushed for 51 yards on 13 carries, including one for a touchdown, and Jorgen Stagg carried the ball six times for 41 yards. Junior Tannen Kennedy rushed for 22 yards, Shelton rushed for 14 and Burke ran for nine.
Tevin Pelloni led the Cowboys with eight tackles, junior James Amick finished with seven, Mantle had six and Kennedy finished with five.
Coach Phelan gave his assistants credit saying; “Andy (Coryell) called a good game for us, Darby (Finley) had them blocking up front and Brock (Campbell) had our receivers catching the ball. It’s a work in progress but we’re headed in the right direction.”