Dedicated summer leads Paonia into football season
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.”