Running for Reid
Bruins take first step in healing with victory
CEDAREDGE — When Trent Walker and Kyle Ward joined the senior captains for the pregame coin toss Friday night in Cedaredge, they did so with heavy hearts.
Each had a hand on Reid Gates’ No. 22 football jersey. Flapping in the breeze between them, the jersey symbolized what was missing during Cedaredge’s 42-0 win over Dolores.
Gates died Monday from accidental carbon-monoxide poisoning that also left Aaron Henrie and Tyler Cooper hospitalized in Denver. Cooper was discharged from the hospital Thursday evening. Henrie remains at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.
But Walker said that despite Gates’ physical absence, Gates was the biggest part of the Bruins’ win. Each Cedaredge player had “22” on the back of his helmet, and each Dolores player wore a sticker honoring Gates.
“It was like having another man there with us,” Walker said. “I felt like he was there.”
After the coin toss, the captains presented the jersey to Gates’ sister, Jheri.
Cedaredge’s first score came on a 12-yard scramble by Walker, who took it himself on a read-option play.
“Before I crossed the goal line, I was thinking of Reid,” Walker said. “Honestly, I think I was running that ball before I snapped it. I kind of just took him with me when I ran it in. He was on my mind the whole game.
“I had somebody tell me, somebody who had been through the same things, that your helmet is your shield. And when that thing is on, you don’t let anyone in. You can just play the best that you can.”
In a game where football was secondary to a grieving community, coach Brandon Milholland said he just wanted the Bruins to make it through the game.
“(I felt) pain, sorrow, grieving. I mean, I’m just proud of the young men,” Milholland said. “I’m proud of (Reid). He did it right.
“It’s a great community, and everybody will reach out and care for one another here. We truly are a big family.”
The game ended with a group prayer that not only included Cedaredge and Dolores players, coaches and fans, but players and community members from Paonia, Hotchkiss and Delta.
The outpouring of support came from what Dolores coach Chris Trusler called the “football family.”
“In football, everyone is kind of brothers,” Trusler said. “Even though you have rivalries, and you want to go out and play your best against the other team, we’re honored to be a part of helping this community heal.
“We’re honored and humbled to help honor Reid Gates, who I’ve been told was not only an exceptional athlete, but a better person. To see some of my players becoming emotional after the game, that shows me that we’re a family.”
Walker and Ward hooked up for Walker’s only passing touchdown. He finished with 15 completions on 24 attempts for 145 yards and one interception.
Cedaredge did most of its damage on the ground. Walker had six carries for 37 yards and two touchdowns.
Peter Williamson had 13 carries for 114 yards and a touchdown, and Xander Camp had seven carries for 57 yards and two touchdowns.
“We played with heart,” Milholland said. “We’re getting better up front, and we flew around on defense and did a great job all-around defensively. You know our offense stuttered a bit in the first half with the turnovers, and we hurt ourselves with some penalties. But it was good for the boys to just get out and play a game, to play a game that they know well and they’re pretty good at. It was good for them to be doing something.”
A memorial service for Gates is at 2 p.m. today at Cedaredge High School.