Focusing on future helps Cedaredge win state title
BUENA VISTA — With its 18-16 win over Buena Vista in the Class 1A state football championship on Saturday, Cedaredge made school history with its first football title.
Cedaredge High School was built in 1918 and fielded its first football team around 1950. The Bruins have not qualified for state in football since it reached the Class 2A state championship game in 1993, former Cedaredge Athletic Director Randy Brown said.
The past three seasons, Cedaredge had nine wins. And the Bruins opened this season with a 32-6 loss to Class 3A Eagle Valley.
“After the Eagle Valley game, they came in Monday and it was hell,” Cedaredge coach Brandon Milholland said. “It was tough. I put them through workouts we did in college (at Mesa State). They prevailed. They survived that first week.”
And then Cedaredge won 12 straight.
The Bruins’ stellar senior class did not let past losses bog them down this season.
“Our senior class knew that if we worked hard, that we’d be here,” Cedaredge quarterback and safety Dante Markley said. “The underclassmen know what they’re capable of if they put in the work and push in the offseason.”
Cedaredge senior Cade Wasser said despite its past, the Bruins knew it could be a state contender.
“We knew we could be good,” Wasser said. “It’s been a little bit of an uphill battle. It’s an awesome feeling bringing the first state championship back to Cedaredge.”
Perhaps one of Cedaredge’s advantages on Saturday was its experience against elite competition.
Aside from a 32-6 loss to Eagle Valley, the Bruins faced Hotchkiss, a state semifinalist, twice, winning both.
Buena Vista faced Hotchkiss once, winning 18-15. That aside, its closest game was its 33-8 win over Wray last week in the semifinals.
So Cedaredge had faced similar adversity to what it handled in the fourth quarter Saturday. Buena Vista got on the board with a safety with 5:50 remaining in the fourth quarter. On the play, Bruins running back Carter Wasser fumbled at the 1-yard line, and quarterback Trent Walker recovered in the end zone and was touched down. Then Buena Vista pulled to within 12-9 with 4:54 remaining on a Koby Close 1-yard run.
Cedaredge did not seem to panic.
“We’ve already been tested this year; we don’t hang our heads,” said Cedaredge senior middle linebacker and offensive lineman Dustin Stracener, who had one sack. “We already tasted defeat this year. We didn’t like that taste.”
The Bruins responded by stopping Buena Vista on fourth down at the Demons’ 15-yard line — a pass deflection by Cade Wasser — then scored on Carter Wasser’s 8-yard touchdown run to go up, 18-9.
“They knew if it got close like this they would triumph,” Milholland said. “They’d end up victorious because they have such strong belief in each other and the coach.”
Schools move down, move up
It was fitting that the two Class 1A state championship teams are ones that dropped a classification for this season.
Cedaredge was 4-6 last year in the Class 2A Western Slope League.
Buena Vista was 7-4 in the 2A Mountain League, qualifying for state but losing in the first round, 42-7 to Florence.