Meeker chasing first state football title
It will be a fitting end to the Class 1A state championship.
It’s No. 1 vs. No. 2, both teams unbeaten, both looking to end lengthy state championship droughts.
It’s Meeker (12-0) vs. Strasburg (12-0) for all the 1A marbles today.
And it’s Cowboys versus Indians.
The Meeker Cowboys are looking for the school’s first football state title. This is the Cowboys’ first appearance in the title game since 1996.
Strasburg has won a pair of state titles, its second coming back in 1990.
For the Indians, a state title would mean beating all four teams from the 1A Western Slope Conference in the playoffs.
So far it’s three down and the No. 1 seed to go.
Meeker relies on a balanced offense, averaging close to 200 yards both rushing and passing. In the semifinals, the Cowboys’ run game was shut down.
So it fell to junior quarterback Logan Hughes to shoulder the load. He finished with a career-high 326 yards on 17 of 32 passing and three TDs against Bennett.
Senior receivers Cole Brown and Hunter Garcia both had more than 100 yards receiving in the 34-24 win over Bennett.
A trio of seniors carry the receiving load for the Cowboys. Sheridan Harvey has 714 yards, Brown 698 and Garcia 663 yards on the season. The three have combined for 23 touchdowns.
Hughes has been superb running Meeker’s spread offense and has 403 yards rushing and has had eight games of at least 180 yards passing this season.
Junior Doak Mantle has rushed for 1,000 yards this season for the Cowboys.
The one area where Meeker has struggled is with the kicking game. The Cowboys have only attempted four extra-point kicks this season, so they rely heavily on the two-point conversion.
Strasburg’s potent offense has put up big numbers all season. The Indians have scored at least 41 points in every game except in the quarterfinals when they beat Cedaredge 29-11.
The Indians have one runner over 1,000 yards — junior Hunter Bergstrom — but they are far from one-dimensional.
Even through Strasburg only averages 116 passing yards per game, the Indians have proven they can be effective throwing the football.
Senior quarterback Hunter Martin has thrown for more than 1,400 yards and 22 TDs. He averages close to 20 yards per completion.
On the season, he has four games where he’s thrown for more than 170 yards.
He’s also rushed for 481 yards on the season.
Senior Chase Starman has run for 532 yards, averaging nearly 10 yards per carry, and he has scored 12 TDs.
The two leading rushers, Bergstrom and Jeremy Ladd (716 yards) also both have more than 400 yards receiving, and they both have 19 total TDs on the year.
In the Indians’ 49-28 win over Paonia in the semifinals, Bergstrom, who averages 15 yards per carry, rushed for 153 yards.
Martin completed 4 of 6 passes for 73 yards and a pair of TDs against the Eagles.
Against the stout Paonia run defense, the Indians still managed to rush for 293 yards last week.
Strasburg has made 56 of 66 PATs on the season.
So far, the Indians have beaten Grand Valley, Cedaredge and Paonia in the playoffs.
Strasburg led Paonia 28-21 in the third quarter before scoring three touchdowns to pull away.
Meeker trailed Bennett 16-14 and then 24-20 in the third quarter before the Cowboys scored 14 unanswered points.
Both Meeker and Strasburg have playoff experience. The Indians lost in the quarterfinals the past two years, and the Cowboys lost in the quarterfinals last year and the semifinals in 2014.