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MEEKER — The Hotchkiss Bulldogs gave good indication that their No. 4 state ranking is deserved Friday night as they easily handled the visiting Meeker Cowboys 47-14 to end the regular season for both teams.
Hotchkiss, dropping down from the 2A football classification to 1A this year, claimed the league champions with perfect 5-0 conference and 8-1 overall records. Meeker finished the season 3-2 league and 5-4 overall.
Speed and strength seemed to be the keywords of the night Friday in Hotchkiss as the big play seemed to again be the Cowboy nemesis. The Bulldogs used both air and ground attacks to gain a 28-8 halftime advantage over the Cowboys.
Meeker’s second half showed initially that they may make their way back into the game as they took the second half kickoff down the field and scored. Sophomore quarterback Trevor Matrisciano, filling in for the injured Colton Brown, made a good run to help set up the score. The Cowboys try for two failed but they cut the Bulldog lead in half at 28-14 with plenty of time left.
The score woke up the Bulldogs though, as they succeeded with scoring on long plays in consecutive series, a long run produced a touchdown as did a reverse play. The Bulldog defense then shut down the Cowboy offense for the rest of the night. The Bulldogs won going away 47-14.
Even with the loss, the Cowboys were hoping to gain a wild card berth in the state playoffs. History had shown that the third place Western Slope team had received the ticket.
However after Sunday’s selection committee announcement, Meeker’s 5-4 record did not receive one of the wild card berths. Teams that did receive a wild card berth were: Wray, 7-2 (No. 3) and Holyoke 6-3 (No. 4) from the North Central League, Custer County 6-3 (No. 3) from the Santa Fe League and Burlington 4-5 (No. 3) from the South Central.
Around the league
In the final week of league action, Paonia solidified their second place league finish with a 58-21 defeat of Rangely, and Hayden handled West Grand 47-12. This week will start the first round of the state playoffs. Hotchkiss will defend their No. 4 state ranking against the No. 13 Holyoke Dragons in Hotchkiss, while Paonia will take their No. 10 ranking to Lyons against the No. 7 Lions. Winners will advance to the second round of the playoffs.