Cedaredge faces Buena Vista with chance to win first state crown
Cedaredge High School football coach Brandon Milholland knows one thing for sure about Buena Vista: “I know they’ve just taken it to every team in the state,” Milholland said. “Except for Hotchkiss.”
So has Cedaredge. Aside from a season-opening 32-6 loss to Class 3A Eagle Valley, the Bruins also manhandled every team except Hotchkiss.
No surprise the state’s powerhouse teams will meet 1 p.m. Saturday at Buena Vista High School for the state championship.
But the Bruins will not know until today if starting quarterback and safety Dante Markley will be cleared by doctors to play. Markley, who sustained a concussion in the Bruins’ quarterfinal win over Monte Vista, missed the 16-12 semifinal victory over Hotchkiss last week.
Markley, who has 1,278 yards passing with 16 touchdowns and 563 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns, said he was not cleared to play by doctors on Monday or Tuesday. Markley said doctors did OK him to practice Wednesday and Thursday, but without contact. He’ll be evaluated again today.
Trent Walker, a wide receiver who started at quarterback last week against Hotchkiss, would start again if Markley is not cleared to play.
Cedaredge (11-1), which has an 11-game winning streak, is playing for its first football state championship. The Bruins lost the 1993 Class 2A state title game 22-8 to Rye.
Buena Vista (12-0) last made the state final in 2005, losing to Holy Family. The Demons last won a Class 2A state title in 1999, the program’s only state championship.
Buena Vista and Cedaredge have notable similarities.
For one, both have sturdy defenses. Buena Vista has six shutouts and has allowed 66 points, Cedaredge has three shutouts and has allowed 134 points — but 32 to 3A Eagle Valley.
Both have quarterbacks who can run and pass effectively. Buena Vista quarterback Koby Close played running back as a junior last season, and this season has passed for 1,063 yards and rushed for 1,204.
“He’s something special for sure,” Demons coach Matt Flavin said. “He was our running back last year so I decided to move him to quarterback because of his knowledge of football and understanding of the offense and leadership.”
Markley is similar.
“Definitely Markley and those (Wasser) brothers, they’re aggressive and play hard and we have our work cut out for us,” Flavin said.
And both teams have standout running backs. Flavin said Demons running back Dakoda DeFurio, who has rushed for 1,326 yards on 160 carries with 23 touchdowns, has been contacted by coaches at Colorado State University-Pueblo and Adams State College to possibly play football.
Cedaredge also has possible collegiate talent: Markley and twin brothers Cade and Carter Wasser (153 carries, 1,162 yards, 17 touchdowns), as well as senior middle linebacker Dustin Stracener, who at 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds has 5.7 tackles per game and, according to Milholland, runs a 5.1 40-yard dash.
Flavin said he long has kept an eye on them all.
“They’ve been on the radar for awhile with us here,” Flavin said Monday as he took a break from watching the Bruins on video. “It was just kind of this feeling watching and hearing about them. Especially when they beat Hotchkiss — we knew they were a team that definitely could go deep in the playoffs.”
It hadn’t always been this way at Cedaredge. In their previous three seasons, the Bruins were 4-6, 3-7 and 2-8.
Now they’re in the title game with an 11-game winning streak.
“We’ve never even been close to this,” Cedaredge wide receiver Reid Gates said. “So it’s crazy.”