Markley’s return gives Bruins a lift
BUENA VISTA — Dante Markley was back on the field, but in a different role.
The Cedaredge High School senior still made a big impact as the Bruins claimed the Class 1A state football championship Saturday with an 18-16 victory over Buena Vista at Buena Vista High School.
After sustaining a concussion two weeks ago against Monte Vista, Markley had to sit out Cedaredge’s semifinal victory last week over Hotchkiss.
He was cleared Friday to play in the championship game and became part of a two-headed monster at the quarterback position. Citing Markley’s health as his main concern, Cedaredge football coach Brandon Milholland kept junior Trevor Walker at quarterback despite Markley being cleared to play.
“I think it was the plan coach (Milholland) had all along,” Markley said. “He called it ‘the two-headed monster’ because together we’re hard to stop.”
It was a move that paid off for both players.
Walker completed 9 of 21 passes for 87 yards on the day, including completing all five of his passes on Cedaredge’s opening drive that ended in a touchdown and a 6-0 lead.
Markley became a dominating force as a combination wide receiver/Wildcat quarterback. Markley was targeted five times in the passing game, and finished with seven carries for 47 yards.
“Early on, we were going to throw the ball,” Milholland said. “We knew that if (Walker) completed that first pass, which he did, you knew he was going to have a great day.
“He’s a mature young man. Even last game against Hotchkiss he didn’t complete the first pass.”
It was Walker’s second game as a quarterback for the Bruins, but pressure wasn’t an issue, even in a state title game.
“It wasn’t like Dante came out and it was all on me,” Walker said. “I have a lot of awesome guys around me that helped me make this happen. I just did what I had to do in the offense. I was focused on getting all the guys, including Dante, the ball so they could make plays.”
Markley hadn’t played as a wide receiver since his freshman year, but he knew his set of skills, along with Walker, would be hard to stop together. Listed at 6-foot-5, Walker is more of a traditional pocket passer. Markley uses his legs to extend plays and find the sideline.
While he was off the field, Markley was still a leader for the offense. The senior captain was only under center for a few plays, but he supplied guidance for Walker and other underclassmen on the sideline.
“I wasn’t on the field a ton so I tried to provide moral support,” Markley said. “I love these guys, I can’t think of anyone else I’d want to be on the team. I was just trying to do my part.”
Markley also supplied motivation to the defense. Senior linebacker and defensive captain Dustin Stracener said that Markley was a key reason the defense held Buena Vista to a season-low 16 points.
“I’m so happy because we’re (like) brothers,” Stracener said. “We’ve been together since sixth grade playing ball. It’s a blessing to have him out here.”