Paonia whips Cedaredge, wins 1A WSC
PAONIA — Paonia scored six touchdowns on offense, got a shutout on defense for the second game in a row and won the 1A Western Slope Conference championship Friday night with a 40-0 win over last year’s champion, Cedaredge.
Sophomore Taylor Walters ran for 67 yards in the win, threw for 115 yards and two touchdowns and snagged an interception to lead the Eagles.
“It’s the best feeling right now,” Walters said. “We want it all, so we’re gonna keep working hard to get there.”
Paonia ended the regular season at 8-1, including a perfect 5-0 mark in conference play. If Cedaredge had won, there would have been a three-way tie for first place between Paonia, Cedaredge and Hotchkiss.
The Eagles wasted no time taking control of the game jumping to a 19-0 halftime lead.
Will Austin’s 1-yard touchdown run capped a six-play drive on Paonia’s first possession, and the Eagles scored after four plays on its second possession. Walters threw a 16-yard touchdown strike to Gunnar Chesnik, and Paonia was ahead 12-0 seven minutes into the contest.
Ty Coats threw a 12-yard pass to Joel Simianer for Paonia’s third touchdown, and Colby Simpson’s extra point kick sent the home team into the break comfortably ahead.
The Bruins (6-3, 3-2 WSC) saw quarterback Trent Walker toss two interceptions under heavy defensive pressure all night.
“You learn from losses as much as you learn from wins,” Cedaredge coach Brandon Milholland said. “The biggest thing we need to learn from a game like this tonight is to play like they played. They played hard from whistle to whistle, they played with class, they have respect for the game, and they flat just whupped us.”
Paonia sophomore Jeremiah Hillman burst up the middle and ran 48 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter to make it 26-0.
Cedaredge drove to Paonia’s 3-yard line on its next possession, but the Eagles’ defense held on a fourth-and-two play, and Paonia put the game away with a 10-play, 92-yard touchdown drive that ended with Walters throwing a 9-yard scoring pass to Simianer.
First year Paonia coach Brent McRae said he didn’t expect to win the conference when he first took the job.
“No, but the expectations are always there,” McRae said. “This was a goal we set. A couple people told me just take baby steps, but we just told the boys, ‘Let’s have some fun and see what happens.’ “
■ Gunnison 25, Olathe 22: Senior Nick Koch kicked a 21-yard field goal with 3.8 seconds remaining to give Gunnison the win and the Class 2A Western Slope Conference championship.
The Cowboys (7-2, 7-0 WSC) won their first WSC title since 2007. Olathe finished the regular season 6-3 overall, 6-1 in the conference.
Junior Michael Howard’s interception with 1:58 remaining set up Gunnison for an 83-yard, game-winning drive. Junior Ian O’Banion broke a 40-yard run, and junior Jake Wallin converted on fourth-down-and-three at the Olathe 25-yard line to keep the Cowboys’ hopes alive.
The Pirates were en route to a potential game-winning drive of their own late in the fourth quarter after coming back from a seven-point deficit at halftime to tie the game, 22-22, with 7:42 remaining.