Cowboys rally to top Bennett, play for title
Meeker High School’s football team struggled at times with a big, physical Bennett team, but the Cowboys found a way to put together a 34-24 win on Saturday.
The win puts Meeker into the Class 1A state championship game.
Meeker (12-0), the Class 1A No. 1 seed, trailed Bennett (10-2) 8-6 at halftime and 24-20 in the third quarter before scoring the final 14 points of the game.
Meeker was last in the finals in 1996 and has never won a state title. The game will be at Starbuck Stadium in Meeker on Saturday.
Meeker turned to its passing game when Bennett stuffed the Cowboys’ run game. The Cowboys have used the passing game well all season and came into the game averaging close to 200 yards a game.
“We did some really good things in the passing game today,” Meeker coach Shane Phelan said in an interview with Coloradopreps.com. “That’s a big strong, physical team and we struggled to run the ball at times.”
Defensively, Phelan said they just needed to get stops, especially in the second half.
“We’re really fortunate to get a few stops there, that’s a really good football team,” Phelan said.
Two years ago, the Cowboys were blown out in the semifinals but Phelan said this year was different.
“That was the first time we were in the semifinals for a while and some of our seniors were involved in that game… and maybe they were a little satisfied to just be there that year, and I think this year, they wanted it a little more,” he told Coloradopreps.com.
In the other semifinal game, Strasburg (12-0) pulled away from Paonia (10-2) to advance to the title game with a 49-28 win at home.
The loss kept the Eagles from making the 1A title game for a fourth consecutive time. Paonia’s only other loss this season came against Meeker.
Strasburg has now defeated three Western Slope Conference teams en route to the finals. The Indians beat Grand Valley to open the playoffs 54-0, then dropped Cedaredge 29-11 in the quarterfinals before beating Paonia.
Meeker will be the fourth WSC opponent for Strasburg in the playoffs.
The semifinals featured the top four seeds in the 16-team bracket, and now the championship game will feature No. 1 against No. 2.