Phelan back at helm as Meeker Cowboys’ head coach



Head coach: Shane Phelan, seventh season, first since 2009 (36-22 from 2004-09)

2012 record: 3-6, 2-3 WSC

Assistant coaches: Aaron Zielinske, receivers/defensive backs; Andy Coryell, quarterbacks/offense; Matt Duprie, receivers/defensive backs/special teams; Ben Quinn, offensive line/defensive line; Darby Finley, assistant

Returning starters: RB/LB J.C. Henderson, sr.; QB/LB Dylan Mobely, sr.; OL/DL Ricky Jeffery, sr.; OL/LB/DE Willis Begaye, sr.; OL/DL Joe Newman, jr.; WR/DB Raul Lopez, jr.; QB/DB Jake Phelan, jr.

Key newcomers: RB/LB T.J. Shelton, soph.; OL Devon Pontine, soph.

Base offense: Spread

Base defense: 4-3 or 4-4

Team outlook: Shane Phelan, who was a running back at Meeker and then at Western State, wants to help the Cowboys return to the upper echelon of the 1A Western Slope Conference. He has a handful of veterans from last season and a crop of young players who are excited about football.

Coach Phelan says: “This league is tough as nails. It’s really hard. There’s a lot of preseason (games to schedule) since Hayden and Rangely went to 8-man and we lost those league games. School funds are down, and small schools aren’t letting teams travel, so we’ve had to play a lot of bigger schools early in the year. The record doesn’t look that good, even though we’re doing all right in 1A.”

Shane Phelan is a Cowboy.

And, he’s a cowboy.

The new Meeker High School football coach is actually a former Meeker football coach and a former Meeker football player.

He left three years ago to concentrate on his cattle and sheep ranch and to “be a dad,” he said.

Now, he’s a rancher and a football coach. And his son, Jake, is one of his players.

“We’ll see how that goes,” he said about coaching his son. “That’s part of the reason I got out of it: Let somebody else do it, and be a dad and watch.”

But when Ron Dupree resigned the day after the season ended last year and a replacement still hadn’t been found when school ended this past spring, Phelan Cowboyed up.

“The guilt gets me,” he said. “It was the same situation as last time and how I started (coaching) the first time. I felt bad for the kids. I didn’t know if I could help or not, but I’d try.”

In six seasons his first go-round (2004-09), his teams went 36-22. He’s hoping to bring Meeker back from a couple of down years after seeing progress last season.

“I know some of the kids, watching (Jake’s) class and being around it,” he said. “Knowing some of those kids for awhile makes it easier. One of the hard things about not being in the school building is building relationships with these kids when you only see them two hours a day. Knowing some of these kids will make the transition a little easier.”

Phelan worked with players all summer and thinks he has the makings for a pretty good football team.

Senior Dylan Mobely and Jake Phelan, a junior, will vie to play quarterback in Meeker’s spread offense.

Senior J.C. Henderson returns at running back and linebacker, with some solid numbers on the offensive line, starting with Ricky Jeffery, Willis Begaye and Joe Newman. Raul Lopez returns as a receiver/defensive back.

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