Coach wins Super Bowl in final junior game

Vince Grasso of the Cowboys picks up yardage during Wednesday’s junior football heavyweight Super Bowl game against the Chargers at Stocker Stadium.

Ken Howell couldn’t have asked for a better way to end his junior football coaching career.

Howell, who’s coached the Fruita Cowboys for 15 seasons in the Mesa County Junior Football Association, is leaving on a high note.

The Cowboys heavyweights defeated the Redlands Chargers 30-6 at Stocker Stadium on Wednesday to close out the league season.

The Cowboys finished the season 10-0.

“That’s the first heavyweight team we can remember that went undefeated,” Howell said.

They had to work to do it, however.

After outscoring their opponents 437-40 entering the championship game, the Cowboys had their hands full with the Chargers, whom they had defeated 55-0 during the regular season.

“They did some line shifting,” Howell said.

More than anything, though, “I think they just stepped it up,” he said.

The Cowboys got on the board midway through the first quarter, an interception setting up Vince Grasso’s 28-yard run around left end for the score. It was Grasso’s 31st touchdown of the season.

Spencer Fair’s 14-yard touchdown reception from Logan McLennan gave the Cowboys a 14-0 halftime lead, but the Chargers’ Travis Moesser ran 55 yards up the middle on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter. That set up quarterback Dylan Lucas’ 3-yard keeper to pull Redlands to within 14-6.

Then the Cowboys went to work again. They scored on a 2-yard run by Doran Wood and a 61-yard McLennan-to-Dylan Williams pass.

“We knew if we could wear them down, then we would get them in the second half,” Grasso said.

After winning last week’s semifinal game, the Cowboys weren’t content just to reach the championship.

“Our goal has always been the Super Bowl,” Grasso said.

The victory avenged a loss by the Cowboys to the same Chargers team in the semifinals of last year’s
lightweight playoffs.

“This is the best heavyweight team I’ve ever seen,” Howell said.

He’ll get a chance to see a few more. Although he’s retiring from coaching, he’ll help the association in its development of young coaches. In effect, he’ll be a coach of coaches.

“It is with mixed emotions,” he said of giving up the Cowboys’ reins.

But his decision was firm.

“I told the boys tonight so I wouldn’t back out.”


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