Cedaredge Bruins hope to write a new chapter after winning 1A title

Cedaredge High School football coach Brandon Milholland watches his players run drills during practice Aug. 15. Milholland knows the Bruins have high expectations this season after going 12-1 and winning the Class 1A state football championship in 2012.



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Cedaredge High School football coach Brandon Milholland watches his players run drills during practice Aug. 15. Milholland knows the Bruins have high expectations this season after going 12-1 and winning the Class 1A state football championship in 2012.

Cedaredge running back Reid Gates makes his way through a drill with the ball during practice.



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Cedaredge running back Reid Gates makes his way through a drill with the ball during practice.

Cedaredge senior Trent Walker is the Bruins’ starting quarterback this season after gaining playoff experience last season following an injury to starter Dante Markley.



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Cedaredge senior Trent Walker is the Bruins’ starting quarterback this season after gaining playoff experience last season following an injury to starter Dante Markley.

Photo by William Woody—Cedaredge Kyle Ward makes a tackle during practice Aug. 15.



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Photo by William Woody—Cedaredge Kyle Ward makes a tackle during practice Aug. 15.

Cedaredge’s Corey Reynolds makes a tackle during practice Aug. 15.



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Cedaredge’s Corey Reynolds makes a tackle during practice Aug. 15.

Cedaredge running back Peter Williamson breaks away for extra yardage during practice Aug. 15.



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Cedaredge running back Peter Williamson breaks away for extra yardage during practice Aug. 15.

Photo by William Woody—Cedaredge coach Brandon Milholland watches his players run during practice Aug. 15.



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Photo by William Woody—Cedaredge coach Brandon Milholland watches his players run during practice Aug. 15.

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QUICKREAD

ABOUT THE Cedaredge Bruins

Head coach: Brandon Milholland, 4th season, 19-21

2012 record: 12-1, 5-0 WSC, Class 1A state champion

2012 JV record: 1-7

Assistant coaches: John Kuemmerlin, defensive coordinator/OL/DL; C.J. Cannell, offensive coordinator/DB; Kevin Dunbar, LB/RB/special teams

Returning starters: RB/CB Reid Gates, sr.; QB Trent Walker, sr.; WR Kyle Ward, sr.; RB/LB Peter Williamson, sr.; MLB Taber Anderson, sr.; WR/DB Mickey Madaleno, jr.; WR/LB Austin Gartman, sr.; OL/DL Corey Reynolds, jr.; OL/DL Alejandro Alejandre, sr.

Key newcomers: WR/DB Tylor Beach, jr.; WR/C Xander Camp, jr.; OL/DL Devon Kuhns, jr.; OL/DL Isaiah Surber, jr.

Base offense: Spread

Base defense: 4-4, 5-3

Team outlook: Milholland’s system is firmly in place after three years, and a core group of nine seniors will make the Bruins the conference favorite. Quarterback Trent Walker stepped in during the state semifinals last season when Dante Markley was injured, keying the winning drive against Hotchkiss, and helped lead the Bruins in the title game the next week. A talented group of receivers will stretch defenses in Cedaredge’s spread offense, and the offensive line looks solid again. Several players off last year’s JV team are ready for their shot.

Coach Milholland says: “That’s the expectations. That’s what these kids have in mind. Things have to fall in place for it to happen, but these kids have put in the work and the time this summer to be successful. Whether or not that’s a state championship, I’m not going to say if it is or it isn’t. You never know. But they’ve definitely worked hard for it, and they want it again. They certainly want it again.”



Turn the page.

“We want to make our own story,” says Cedaredge High School quarterback Trent Walker.

Yes, the fall of 2012 was terrific, wonderful, magical, unforgettable, when the Bruins went from 4-6 to 12-1 and won the whole thing.

An opening-week loss to Class 3A Eagle Valley was the only hiccup for Cedaredge on its way to the Class 1A football state championship.

The couple of weeks after winning the title, the Bruins were the toast of the town on the south side of Grand Mesa.

“When that whole thing was going down, you had assemblies in the gym, and the middle school would come up and the elementary school would come up and the whole town was there, and I’m giving a 45-minute thank-you speech to everybody,” coach Brandon Milholland said. “What an environment. It doesn’t get much better than that. I don’t know how it can, but that’s why we’re playing again this year.”

By the time December rolled around, the Bruins were actually a little tired of the pats on the back and the hoopla. It was basketball season, wrestling season. Soon after, it was time to run track or play baseball.

Next chapter.

“It’s a new year. We’re ready to have our own time,” said senior middle linebacker Taber Anderson, who was a reserve last year, playing behind Carter Wasser.

“You have people coming in saying, ‘Oh, yeah, you were on that championship team last year, right?’ You’re like, ‘Yeah, but it’s my turn now.’ “

The Bruins will never forget 2012, and their eyes light up when they talk about how the entire community had their backs all season as they ticked off win after win after win.

Montezuma-Cortez (3A), 46-7. Olathe (2A), 41-18. Dolores (1A), 38-0.

Then came the conference schedule.

Hotchkiss, 21-20. Roaring Fork, 42-0. Meeker, 39-13. Lake County, 66-12. Paonia, 46-6.

Then the playoffs.

Centauri, 55-14. Monte Vista, 18-0. Hotchkiss, 16-12

And the big one.

Buena Vista, 18-16.

“We did OK,” Milholland said with a grin when he was jokingly asked, “So, how was last season? Were you guys any good?”

“The ball just bounces the right way sometimes, and it has to to win a state title,” he said.

“It lined up right, and Trent Walker stepping up in the semifinal game, third and 14 against Hotchkiss and Reid (Gates) makes a diving catch. It’s things like that that just added up throughout the course of the year, and wow, that was pretty fun.”

Turn the page.

The Bruins have a common goal to win another state title, make no doubt.

“It’s our time. It’s our turn to do it again,” said Gates, the Bruins’ do-it-all athlete, a state champ in football and track as a junior. “We’re looking for a repeat, for sure.

“Last year getting the community involved was crazy. We haven’t been good in past years, so people really got excited, and now people expect it, and we’re going to do it again. It’s going to be just as exciting.”

Milholland warns, though, that repeating can’t be the end-all.

“They can’t go try to win a state title on every play,” he said. “We didn’t win the state title on one play last year. It was the whole course of the season last year.

“It was doing two-a-days correctly and working hard, and all those things added up. You’ve got to move on to the next play, the next play, the next year.”

The players have done their part, conditioning and lifting weights during the offseason and putting in some grueling workouts with wrestling coach Ted Schannen this summer.

Milholland said a group of about 10 freshmen were regulars in the weight room this summer, ready to become Bruins.

Next chapter.

Walker, who was a wide receiver last year until starting quarterback Dante Markley was injured, is the starting quarterback. Gates returns as a running back in the spread offense after running for 876 yards and six TDs last season.

Peter Williamson will also be a big part of the running game that featured Markley and Gates last season.

Walker is more of a throwing quarterback, but he’s also a threat to run.

“Trent Walker has done really well through the summer throwing the ball,” Milholland said. “We have some good receivers, and you have to have that. Sometimes at a small school, you have a kid who can throw it, but you don’t have anybody who can catch it, so what’s the use?

“We’ve got some kids who can catch it and some linemen who can protect them. It’s very close to what we ran last year. Dante was a heck of a running threat. Trent’s not slow by any means, but he’s not Markley’s speed.”

Then again, not many are. Markley will run track at Western State Colorado University this year.

Walker is eager to see how the new offensive line comes together, and he has quickly adapted to the leadership role that comes with being a senior. He talked about the family atmosphere at Cedaredge, that crucial aspect of sports.

“There’s oranges fences on both sides of the field where the players cross the line,” he said. “We talk about nobody knows what goes on inside those lines. We’re a family within us, and we’re a community outside.”

Talking about winning football games makes them light up. Friday night? Best night of the week.

They know all of Cedaredge will be rooting for them every Friday night.

“We tasted victory, and we’re working hard to get it again,” Walker said.

For the seniors, final chapter.

“Last year was amazing,” Walker said. “But we’re ready to write a new one.”

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