MEEKER I The Meeker High School football team opened the season in southeastern Colorado, and although the Cowboys lost 17-16 to the Rye Thunderbolts in a non-league contest, the coaching staff is excited about the team’s potential.
The Cowboys will play closer to home Friday but will be on the road once again as they travel to Carbondale, where they take on the 2A Roaring Fork Rams.
“We are a young team and, for a lot of our guys, the game in Rye was the first varsity game where they played a lot of minutes,” Meeker head coach Shane Phelan said of his team. “Some of our inexperience showed a little, but we’re really excited. We hope to learn from our mistakes and fix a few things, but we think the future is promising for these guys.”
The Thunderbolts were the only team to score in the first quarter, but Meeker answered with two touchdowns in the second to lead 16-7 at halftime.
The Cowboys would be unable to put up any points on the score board in the second half.
Cowboy senior T.J. Shelton scored on a 30-yard run for the Cowboys and junior Casey Turner scored the two-point conversion, to put Meeker ahead 8-7.
Meeker played tough defense and got the ball back with approximately three minutes to play in the first half. The Cowboys took advantage of the clock and sophomore quarterback Logan Hughes snuck in for a touchdown from one yard out.
Hughes connected with senior Devon Pontine for the two-point conversion and the Cowboys took a 16-7 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Thunderbolts pulled within two points after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter, and an interception in the fourth quarter allowed the Thunderbolts to kick the winning field goal with 4:20 left to play.
“We had a ton of opportunities but were not able to consistently move the football,” coach Phelan said. “Rye was a good opponent and I think if we see them again later in the year, we will be able to compete with them.”
Hughes, who started his first varsity game, completed 10 of 22 passing attempts and rushed for 22 yards, including a touchdown. Shelton carried the ball 18 times for 149 yards, one for a touchdown, and he caught two passes for 18 yards. Pontine caught three passes, Hunter Garcia and Sheridan Harvey each caught two passes and Cole Brown had a great sideline catch for 15 yards.
Shelton and Turner led the defense with 15 tackles each, and Turner also recovered a fumble. Senior Robby Jensen played well, recording 12 tackles, Pontine had 10, Harvey had eight and Chase Rule finished the game with seven tackles as well as having intercepted a pass.
The Cowboys will now prepare for the trip to Carbondale.
“This will be their season opener in front of their home crowd, so it will be a good test for us,” Phelan said of the upcoming game against the Roaring Fork Rams.