MHS football: The end of the beginning

Meeker High School football seniors Collin Cochran, Aaron Pena, Cooper Smith, Reno Roybal, Ethan Overton, Lani Matai and Charlie Scherbarth were honored at the recently held football banquet for their leadership, dedication and camaraderie with the fans. Head coach Ron Dupree said he always heard compliments about the well-mannered team when on the road and was quoted as saying, “This is a great way to gauge the parents and the community.”
Meeker High School football seniors Collin Cochran, Aaron Pena, Cooper Smith, Reno Roybal, Ethan Overton, Lani Matai and Charlie Scherbarth were honored at the recently held football banquet for their leadership, dedication and camaraderie with the fans. Head coach Ron Dupree said he always heard compliments about the well-mannered team when on the road and was quoted as saying, “This is a great way to gauge the parents and the community.”

MEEKER I The 2011 football season has come to an end, but the building process continues. The 2011 season had some ups and downs, but the majority of the players from 2011 should return, tested and battle ready. The Cowboys played 34 different players in 2011 and 28 of them return for 2012. It was not a good year as far as the win/loss record was concerned, but a foundation was laid and hopes are high for next year.
The Cowboys are losing six seniors and they will be missed. They gave the Black and Gold good leadership.  Of the six juniors who played more than 900 total varsity plays, all six will return, led by Tala Atoafa with 963 total game actions. He was followed by Nate Walsh (961), Scott Smith (951), Alex Smith (914) and J.R. Crawford (900). The top freshman play leader is Jake Phelan with 745. The sophomore leader is Sebastian Clarke with 724. Our senior leader was Collin Cochran with 874.
Offensively, headed by coach Brandon Aven, Nate Walsh led the way with 727 total yards, 84 rushing and 659 thrown. His passing total placed him 14th on the all-time leader list, behind Jeff Whiteman, who threw for 1,059 yards in 1991 and the leader in a season for yards passed. The 2011 rushing leader was sophomore Sebastian Clarke, who ran 93 times for 673 yards and an outstanding average of 7.2 yards a carry. He was followed by Tala Atoafa who ran 64 times for 418 yards and a 6.5 average. Freshman Raul Lopez was next, with 43 carries and 257 yards, an average of 5.9 a carry from his QB position.
Alex Smith led the Cowboys in receiving with 22 catches for 341 yards, a 15.5 yards per catch average. He was followed by Kevin Eli, who also had 22 catches for 264 yards, an average of 12 yards per catch. This was only the second time in school history that two players have each caught 20 or more passes in a single season. The first time was in 2005 by Sy Luke and Jeff Overton, who combined for 51 catches. Alex Smith’s catch total of 341 yards was the ninth best behind Bill Taggert who caught 743 yards in 1940.
Sebastian Clarke punted 27 times for 730 yards. His 27 punt attempts were the eighth highest number of punts in a season behind the 39 in 1979 by Scott Blanke. Cooper Smith, with only three games played, punted six times for 258 yards, an average of 43 yards a punt. Cooper Smith also kicked the third longest punt in Meeker history with a 61-yarder. He is third behind the 71-yarder by Bill Anderson in 1983, and a 70-yarder by Buddy Grinstead in 1980.
Clarke returned 32 kickoffs for 948 yards in 2011. This is an average of 29.6 yards per return, which is outstanding. Coach Deming’s KO return crew was outstanding and his wall concept allowed a gifted athlete like Clarke to find daylight. Hats off to the total kickoff return team: Scott Smith, Aaron Cochran, Tala Atoafa, Ethan Overton, Justin Giao, J.C. Henderson, Collin Cochran, Nate Walsh, Kevin Eli, Jake Phelan, Willis Begaye, etc. Clarke also had the first and third longest KO returns in history, with a 97- and a 91-yarder. Second on the list is Fred Oglesby who ran 92 yards with a KO in 1960. Coach Deming’s unit did not allow a touchdown by punt or kickoff return this season.
Our tackle leader was Scott Smith, with 107 total tackles. This puts him in the top ten in school history, led by Kurtis Dunbar who recorded 128 tackles in 2006. Scott Smith was followed this season by Tala Atoafa with 98, Reno Roybal with 91 and Willis Begaye and J.R. Crawford with 78 each. Scott Smith had 19 tackles behind the line-of-scrimmage, the highest total by a defensive linemen in Coach DuPree’s 37 years of coaching. All-state defensive lineman Angelo Theos recorded 15 in the 1964 season, which is second behind Scott Smith. Well done!
Teamwise, outside of fumbles, the totals were fairly good. The Cowboys could move the ball, but they had fumble trouble in the red zone. The 22 first downs tied for second for the most in one game. The 2011 Cowboys also had 20 first downs in another game, which placed 13th on the all-time list. The record for one game is held by the 2005 team with 25. The Black and Gold of 2011 averaged 13.8 first downs a game, which is the 14th best on the all-time list. The top first down team is the 2002 bunch, which averaged 16.8 per game.
The 2011 team averaged 281 yards a game, which is the 12th best in history, behind the leading 2002 team with 379 total yards per game. That team was coached by Craig Paschal. The Cowboys this season also had 432 yards in one game which is the 13th best total in Meeker history.
The defensive unit, led by Coach Aaron Zielinske, held one opponent to only 83 total yards, which is the seventh best of all time. The leading team, in 1991, had a minus 16 yards behind the line-of-scrimmage. Zielinske’s team’s 11 interceptions was the 15th highest total since football was first played in Meeker in 1900, behind the leader, with 18, in 1972. The 2011 Meeker Cowboys had 50 tackles behind the line-of-scrimmage, which ranks them third on the all-time list, behind the 79 tackles registered in 1989 and 70 by the 1988 team. Coach Z also led his unit to the third best first downs allowed in a game, when the Black and Gold held an opponent to three first downs in a game. The leader held the opponent to only two first downs in 1991.
Our coaching staff has a combined total of 210 wins, plus 13 championships. Their background includes playing at one of the most successful programs in the state of Pennsylvania, a top program in the state of Colorado, probably the best over-all program in the state of Washington and at one of the top programs in the football rich state of Texas. Their background also includes playing defensive back, linebacker, quarterback, running back, punter, field goal kicker, kick returner at the high school, college and second level of pro football.  Coach DuPree was quoted as saying that the top ability of this staff was their outstanding ability to get along with all members of the staff and the players.
“Our staff was high on every player in the program, and that is an outstanding quality and rare in today’s athletic world,” Dupree said.