Maestas lifts Broncos to heavyweight title
Isaac Maestas would look a lot like Von Miller, the way the Palisade Broncos linebacker patrols the backfield — if Miller could kick.
Maestas’ 51-yard interception return for a touchdown sparked the Broncos’ 30-12 win over the West Raiders for the Mesa County Junior Football Heavyweight Division Super Bowl.
Heavyweight division is for seventh- and eighth-graders weighing more than 130 pounds.
Maestas and the undefeated Broncos forced five turnovers, including a fumble recovery on their own one-yard line.
“It’s elating to win this,” Palisade coach Tony Shingleton said. “To come out on top like this, and the point differential was absolutely crazy, like 353 to 53 or something like that (for the season). The defense played incredible, the offense played incredible. I can’t say enough. It’s going to be an honor to watch these kids move to the high school level and hopefully bring us home a state title.”
Maestas’ forced fumble and recovery early in the fourth quarter sealed the win for the Broncos. He also stepped in as a backup running back, gaining 31 yards on three carries.
“I knew that when I picked that ball off that we had won,” Maestas said. “I knew we could do it. We’re going to be good (moving to Palisade High School). This team never gives up.”
Palisade’s run-heavy offense converted three more touchdowns on the ground.
Enrique Lujan rumbled 60 yards after stiff-arming his way out of a pile of Raider defenders.
On one of the only passes for the Broncos, running back Prescott Price-Quintana found Daniel McLean up the sideline for a 30-yard halfback pass. Three plays later, Petey Riddle punched it in from two yards out.
Price-Quintana danced in from seven yards out for Palisade’s last score of the game.
The fact the Raiders even made it to the Super Bowl is a testament to their toughness, according to coach Wade Houck. West players had to deal with five deaths of adult relatives. After falling behind 30-0, West mounted a comeback, scoring 12 points in a six-minute span. Billy Fritzel found Rishi Lohar on a wide-receiver screen for a 31-yard touchdown. Shawn Garcia punched in a two-yard touchdown run shortly after the Raiders recovered an onside kick.
“It would take a long time to tell you how special these kids are,” Houck said. “The adversity they’ve had to deal with is unreal. This year, in about a two-week span we lost a father, two uncles, a grandfather, as well as a grandmother who passed away from cancer.
“They had to come together or completely fall apart. This group of kids played more together as a family than any team I have ever coached.”