Cowboys see progress despite loss
COLLBRAN — A 20-minute time frame Saturday afternoon showed Plateau Valley High School football coach Dave Bristol what kind of potential the Cowboys have.
A 3-minute window was all the opportunity Soroco needed to put the 8-man football game out of reach.
Nic Paxton threw three touchdown passes and ran for another for the Rams, who scored five unanswered touchdowns after the Cowboys had pulled within two points on their way to a 48-18 nonleague victory.
“You know as well as I do that when you kick a team in the mouth that’s a halfway decent team, they’re going to kick back,” Bristol said.
“We got a big play, relaxed a little bit and … before you knew it, we’d given up 26 points. Basically, the difference in the game was that 3-minute span.”
Bristol, who took over a program that had its existence threatened prior to last season, is facing the same challenges this year with inexperienced players and dwindling numbers. A lack of playing experience is also a factor, which is why the Cowboys remain focused on whatever improvements are made.
Of course, the first 20 minutes of the game showed a lot of promise for the Cowboys (0-3), who had stuffed the Rams’ rushing attack and, other than a pair of fumbles and an interception, had moved the ball effectively in the first half. But the Rams (3-0) scored three of their four second-quarter touchdowns in the final three minutes after a 100-yard interception return by Plateau Valley senior Ted Grundy.
“We had a good first quarter. Actually, this first quarter was probably the best football we’ve played all year,” Grundy said. “But Soroco played really good from there.”
Paxton threw TD strikes of 16, 10 and 35 yards and finished 10 of 14 passing for 132 yards and an interception. He also finished with 53 rushing yards on 14 carries, with his 6-yard scoring run giving the Rams a 48-12 lead with 1:20 left in the third quarter.
Damon Stahle and Jacob Roberts each had 42 rushing yards and Jacob Hicks had two catches for 55 yards and a score to pace the Cowboys offensively, but Plateau Valley’s defense kept it in the game early on. That showed with just a little more than four minutes remaining before halftime, when Grundy nearly picked off a pass from Paxton in the end zone.
Grundy, however, got a second chance on the next play, picking off another pass from Paxton and rumbling from one goal line to the other to pull the Cowboys within 14-12 after the two-point run attempt failed with 3:57 on the clock.
On the ensuing kickoff, Peyton Martindale weaved his way to a 78-yard kickoff return for a score to give a two-touchdown advantage back to the Rams.
Soroco recovered the ensuing onside kick and found the end zone again six plays later and, after a pass from Stahle was intercepted, Paxton found Matthew Regan down the middle for a 35-yard strike and a 34-12 halftime lead.
The Cowboys, however, feel more inclined to focus on the positive aspects of Saturday’s game, using them as building blocks for the remainder of the season and beyond.
“Some of our numbers are down, and there’s some bad attitudes towards the program we want to get rid of,” Grundy said.
“The group of guys we’ve got here is the same group we’re going to go to battle with every week and get better with every week.
“I mean, we want to win just as much as everybody else, ya know?”
Kennedy 51, Moffat County 22: The Commanders scored two touchdowns late in the second quarter for a three-touchdown lead and pulled away in the second half.
Michael Samuelson scored on three touchdown runs for Moffat County (0-3).
Class 1A: Center defeated Meeker 17-0 in Olathe and Rangely defeated Delta’s junior varsity 30-0.
8-man: Dove Creek routed North Park 46-6 and Norwood shut out Sangre de Cristo 56-0.