Last Friday's prep 1A football game between the state 1A number three team, Paonia, and the number seven team, Cedaredge, was a win for both teams in regards to half of play.
The Bruins dominated Paonia for the game's first 24 minutes and used two scores in the second quarter to take a 14-6 lead to the locker room for halftime.
Paonia coach Brent McRea touted the coaching staff and players of Cedaredge for their first-half play. "We were completely outplayed and outcoached by Cedaredge in the first half."
When asked what was said to turn the game around for the Eagles, McRea was quick to respond. "We didn't get on the kids too much. We did look at fixes that would help us in the second half. To be honest, our leaders stepped up and that made a difference."
Whatever transpired in the locker room provided impetus and a drastic change in the way the Eagles executed in the second half to take control of the game.
The increased aggression on offense was evident on the second half kickoff with Paonia taking the ball on its own 24-yard line to start a drive. Seventy-six yards, and 10 plays later, the Eagles were in the end zone on a 24-yard pass from quarterback Dagan Rienks to Anthony Felice with 7:16 left in the third quarter. Rienks scrambled for a 2-point conversion on a muffed snap for point and got into the end zone with a dive at the end of his run to add the tying points.
Keying the important drive for the Eagles was the running of sophomore running back Jesse Burns who had 38 of the 76 yards in the drive.
Back in the opening half, Paonia scored its first touchdown on a 75-yard drive culminating with Jaden Miller's 53-yard scamper. Miller was responsible for 60 of the 75 yards in the drive. The point after failed to leave Cedaredge ahead 7-6 with 3:58 remaining in the first half.
The Bruins countered with a score of its own on the next Cedaredge possession, which began on Cedaredge's 39-yard line. A pass from sophomore Jared Reynolds to senior Brandon O'Hern moved the ball from Bruins' 47-yard line to the Eagles' 18 setting up Isaac Swoffer's 18-yard run with 1:47 left in the opening half. Brendon Klaseen's point after kick gave the Bruins a 14-6 lead at the break.
Paonia had the ball at the Bruins' 18-yard line where its offense stalled and turned the ball over on downs in the waning seconds of the first half. Cedaredge ran the clock out to keep its 14-6 lead.
Once the score was tied in the third quarter (14-14), the two teams traded turnovers with Swoffer picking off a Rienks aerial to stop a drive and Rienks returning the favor with his swipe of a Pedro Madaleno pass setting up the Eagles at the Cedaredge 33-yard line.
Rienks found wide receiver Colby Simpson down the middle for a 33-yard scoring strike with 32.3 seconds left in the third quarter. Simpson's PAT kick pushed Paonia's lead to 21-14.
The Bruins carried their next possession into the fourth quarter but were forced to punt the ball away after a three-and-out.
Paonia's next drive began on its own 37. Burns and Miller combined for 14 and 23 yards rushing helping set up Sackett Chesnik's 19-yard touchdown run with 7:36 left in the game. Simpson's kick made it 28-14.
An interception by Alex Lozano was returned for a touchdown and a 35-14 score with 1:13 left to play.
Cedaredge had the ball on Paonia's 26 to begin its final drive. An 8-yard run by Swoffer, and Klaseen's PAT, made the final score 35-21.
Rienks was 10 of 19 in the passing game for 131 yards and two touchdowns. Trevor Smith was Rienks' favorite target with four catches and 43 yards. Simpson had two catches and 37 yards with a touchdown and Lozano hauled in two passes for 29 yards. Felice had one catch for 23 yards and a touchdown.
On the ground, Miller's 138 yards on 17 carries paced the rushing attack. Burns finished with 66 yards on nine carries and Chesnik had 21 yards on six carries.
Paonia had 45 tackles in the game and was led by Miller and Smith who finished with eight stops each.
Miller, Felice and Levi Peterson recorded sacks for the Eagles totaling a loss of 26 yards.
Cedaredge's leading rusher was Swoffer who finished with just 42 yards on 13 carries. Swoffer scored all three of Cedaredge's touchdowns. The Bruins finished with 85 yards on the ground and another 120 through the air for a total of 205 yards of offense.
Defensively, the Bruins had 33 tackles and were paced by Jared Reynolds and Tre' Labossiere with five tackles each. O'Hern, Swoffer and Christian Reynolds had four tackles each.
Cedaredge coach Brandon Milholland was still scratching his head after the game had ended. "Man, I still don't know how we lost that one." The Bruins' big first half did not move on to the second half and Paonia's execution and will took over.
Milholland doesn't have the word 'quit' in his vocabulary and the learning process will continue as his Bruins prepare for next week's game against Olathe. As Cedaredge works on fixing its mistakes this week, Milholland is thankful for the opportunity to coach his team. "I'm still so proud of these guys. They're a great group of kids."
The Bruins (0-1, 4-1) will host Olathe's Pirates (0-1, 3-2) this Friday, Oct. 7, with the game set to start at 7 p.m.
Paonia will be hosting the Hotchkiss Bulldogs on Friday as well with that contest also set to begin at 7 p.m.