Central High School seniors made it a package deal for Western State

For Ross McGee, it came down to an academic decision.

Charlie Payton simply liked the football program.

The two Central High School seniors made it a package deal when they signed national letters of intent to play football this fall at Western State College in Gunnison.

The two made the announcement Monday in the Central weight room.

McGee, a tight end, will still get to use his blocking skills as he’s projected to play H-back in the Mountaineers’ offensive set.

Payton, a defensive lineman in the Warriors’ 3-5 formation last fall, expects to play on the front lines on defense.

McGee looked at a couple of other colleges.

“They’ve got a biology program (at Western),” said McGee, who hopes to study wildlife management.

“For me it’s the football program,” said Payton, who has yet to decide on a major. “They’ve got good coaches. I met a lot of the kids when I was there (on my visit). They’re pretty cool.”

With former Central teammates Travis Elliott and Joe Trujillo plus former Palisade player Jesse Kirstatter on the Mountaineers’ roster, the two felt comfortable making the move to Gunnison.

Payton didn’t play football until he was a freshman at Central. He played on the varsity beginning his sophomore season. He was an all-Southwestern Conference honorable mention selection last season.

McGee said he plans to start hitting the weight room soon to prepare for the fall.

“When we went there, they showed us power lifts we’ve got to work on,” he said.

McGee’s father, Vern, is the Central coach.

“It’s going to be different,” McGee said of playing for a coach other than his father.

“It’ll be more intense (with) higher expectations,” Payton said of moving up to the college level.


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