Dedicated summer leads Paonia into football season

Photo by William Woody— Paonia High School’s Jacob Leon drives a contact sled during practice Wednesday afternoon in Paonia Aug. 16, 2012.

Photo by William Woody— Paonia High School’s Tyler Kendall looks to make a catch during practice Wednesday afternoon in Paonia Aug. 16, 2012.

Photo by William Woody— Paonia High School’s Tyler Kendall runs with the ball during practice Wednesday afternoon in Paonia Aug. 16, 2012.

Photo by William Woody—Members of the Paonia High School football team practice at PHS Wednesday afternoon Aug. 16, 2012.


About the Eagles

Head coach: Scott Rienks, second year, 5-4.

2011 record: 5-4.

2011 JV record: 6-2.

Assistant coaches: Jim Abshire, defensive coordinator, running backs, linebackers; Don Holt, offensive and defensive lines; Drew Potter, special teams, wide receivers and defensive line.

Returning starters: OL Jacob Leon, 6-0, 225, sr.; WR Tyler Kendall, 6-0, 190, sr.; WR/DB Taylor Katzer, 5-11, 160, sr.; LB Morgan Reider, 6-1, 210, sr.; DT Tony Darling, 6-2, 290, jr.

Key newcomers: RB/LB Will Austin, 6-2, 180, jr.; RB/S Tyler Jackson, 5-9, 165, jr.; QB Ty Coats, 6-0, 160, jr.; DE Lane Clawson, 6-2, 205, sr.; DE Joel Simanier, 6-3, 195, so.; MLB Jared Byrge, 5-8, 185, jr.; OL Tristen Littlejohn, 5-9, 175, jr.; DB Blake Duvall, 5-8, 130, jr.

Base offense: double wing.

Base defense: 4-4.

Team outlook: Rienks said Paonia hopes to crack the top three in the league. The Eagles lost some depth from last season and play in a conference that will be even tougher with the additions of Roaring Fork and Cedaredge.

Paonia put itself through the gauntlet this summer.

The Eagles charged at competition at the Colorado Mesa University football camp, despite being one of the smallest teams.

“We didn’t win a lot of games, but we were going against big schools,” Paonia coach Scott Rienks said. “We have 155 kids in the high school, and the next closest was 800 all the way to 1,800 to 2,000. We did all right.”

As usual, Paonia expects to be solid and scrappy.

The Eagles were 5-4 last season and inherit players from a junior varsity team that went 6-2.

They will be a team with wrestlers, such as quarterback Ty Coats, a 6-foot, 160-pound junior, linebacker Morgan Reider, a 210-pound senior and returning starter, and defensive tackle Tony Darling, a heavyweight wrestler at 6-foot-2, 290 pounds.

“I think depth will be a key issue,” Rienks said. “We’ve got 15 to 20 pretty good kids. I don’t know that we have depth at all positions. Our kids will have to be interchangeable.”

Rienks, entering his second season, will have the Eagles running a double-wing offense and 4-4 defense.

Paonia will have a lonely start to its season, as its first three games are on the road: 7 p.m. today at Basalt; 7 p.m. Sept. 7 at Grand Valley; and 2 p.m. Sept. 15 at Centauri.

Then, finally, Paonia comes back home to take on Dolores, whom Paonia defeated 32-0 last season.

League play starts for Paonia the following week, Sept. 28, a home game against Roaring Fork.

“We will be young with not as much depth as last year,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll have a chance to be in the top three in our league.”

And Rienks said Paonia’s best asset is the players’ ability to listen to coaches.

“It is a great group of kids who are real coachable,” Rienks said. “I’m not saying we weren’t in the past, but I think this group is one that will listen well. They’re going to do what we ask of them. And some of them are pretty good athletes.”


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