Team-by-team look at surrounding Class 1A squads

Logan Hughes, Meeker’s senior quarterback, runs for a touchdown in last year’s Class 1A state title game.



MEEKER COWBOYS

2016 record: 12-1, 5-0 Class 1A Western Slope Conference (lost in the 1A state title game to Strasburg)

Head coach: Shane Phelan, 11th year, 5th since returning in 2013

Base offense: Spread

Base defense: 4-3

Returning starters: 7

Key players: Logan Hughes (QB/DE/DB; Sr., 6-1, 210); Doak Mantle (RB/DB, Sr., 6-0, 185); Trapper Merrifield (WR/CB, Sr., 5-9, 140); Eli Hanks (RB/TE/LB, Sr., 5-8, 175)

Strength: Experience at quarterback and a winning tradition. The Cowboys have had a winning record each season since Shane Phelan returned to the sideline in 2013.

Coach says: “They’re coming in and putting in the time. It’s like every new year, it’s a work in progress.” — Shane Phelan

PAONIA EAGLES

2016 record: 10-2, 4-1 Class 1A Western Slope Conference (lost in the 1A semifinals to Strasburg)

Head coach: Blaine Escher, 1st year

Base offense: Pro-style

Base defense: Multiple

Returning starters: 10

Key players: Jaden Miller (QB/RB/LB, Sr., 6-1, 195); Cyrus Malek-Madani (OL/MLB, Sr., 6-0, 220); Anthony Felice (WR/DB, Jr., 6-2, 185); Sackett Chesnik (FB/LB, Jr., 5-7, 145)

Strength: Size and strength at all positions. Paonia features several linemen weighing more than 240 pounds and has bulkier players at skill positions.

Coach says: “I think it’s probably going to be between us and Meeker. That’s usually that top rivalry, but we’ll see once we get under the lights. The conference is very deep, but we have a very strong team.” — Blaine Escher

 

CEDAREDGE BRUINS

2016 Record: 8-3, 3-2 Class 1A Western Slope Conference (lost in second round of 1A playoffs to Strasburg)

Head coach: Brandon Milholland, 8th year

Base offense: Multiple

Base defense: 3-5

Returning starters: 7

Key players: Pedro Madaleno (LB/RB, Sr., 6-0, 210); Ty Grant (RB/DB, Sr., 5-11, 170); Jared Reynolds (QB/LB, Jr., 6-1, 180); Taj VanderLinde (OL/DL, Jr., 6-4, 240); Toby Waddell (OL/DL, Jr., 6-1, 230); Drew Markley (WR/DB, Sr., 6-4, 180)

Strength: Experience at skill positions. Pedro Madaleno, Ty Grant, Jared Reynolds and Drew Markley have ample varsity experience.

Coach says: “The number one thing with these kids has been the desire. We lost several seniors, but these guys worked their tails off in the weight room and during 7-on-7s with Fruita, Palisade and Montrose.” — Brandon Milholland

 

GRAND VALLEY CARDINALS

2016 record: 5-5, 2-3 1A Western Slope Conference (lost in first round of 1A playoffs to Strasburg)

Head coach: Tim Lenard, 3rd year

Offense: Spread

Defense: 3-3 stack

Returning starters: 13

Key players: Jeff Holbrook (QB/DB, Sr., 5-9, 165); Jonathan Pena (HB/DB, Jr., 5-6, 155); Levi Nolan (FB/LB, Jr., 5-5, 170); Jason Schubert (WR/RB/DB, Jr., 5-8, 130); Jayden Wood (WR/LB, Sr., 5-11, 155)

Strength: Grand Valley returns virtually its entire roster from last season.

Coach says: “Yeah, I believe there’s a lot of confidence. There’s still some work to do obviously, but we’re ahead of where we were in the past because we had some success.” — Tim Lenard

 

Olathe Pirates

2016 record: 4-5, 1-4 Class 1A Western Slope Conference

Head coach: Ryan Corn, 14th year

Base offense: Multiple sets

Base defense: 3-5

Returning starters: 8

Key players: Dillon Nelson (QB, Sr.); Cesar Suarez (RB, Jr.); Nick Bryant (OL/LB, Sr.); Anthony Garcia (TE/K, Jr.); Omar Nauva (DB/WR, Jr.)

Strength: Commitment. Great turnout for offseason weight-lifting program, and 96 percent attendance at summer football camp.

Coach says: “(Class 1A WSC) is the toughest league in the state in 1A. We had two teams in the semifinals, three in the quarters and four in the playoffs, and we just missed.” — Ryan Corn

 

HOTCHKISS BULLDOGS

2016 record: 3-6, 0-5 1A Western Slope Conference

Head coach: Curtis Hintz, 2nd year

Offense: Veer

Defense: 3-5

Returning starters: 10

Key players: Colton Peebles (RB/LB, Sr., 6-1, 185); Devin Curtis (FB/LB, Sr., 6-0, 205); Nolan Egging (OL/DL, Sr., 6-0, 205); Darrin Young (OL/LB, Sr., 6-4, 245); Braxton Trujillo (WR/DB, Sr., 5-2, 120)

Strength: Experience. The Bulldogs have nine seniors on each side of the ball.

Coach says: “We had a couple really close games, an overtime game with Olathe, a one-point loss to Paonia. That and a couple other games where if we would have taken care of the ball, it would have been right there in the fourth quarter for us.” — Curtis Hintz


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