During halftime of the Paonia Homecoming football game, former Eagles quarterback Casey Gillenwater was honored in words and in spirit. Gillenwater was killed in a truck wreck on Sept. 13. He was a 2011 PHS graduate and in 2010 was crowned Homecoming king.
Game announcer Will Forrest told the crowd that Casey hails from a long line of PHS graduates. Parents Larry and Pam graduated in 1980, and grandparents Dale Gillenwater and Sharon Hutchinson Gillenwater in 1960. His maternal grandparents, Jim and Lois Story Pavlisick, graduated in 1951. Casey's older brother Tyler graduated in 2009, and younger brother Jesse in 2014. Numerous other aunts, uncles and cousins are also PHS alumni.
Casey's jersey number 17, and his initials, were painted in Paonia red-and-black on the 50-yard line. During halftime the PHS football team presented his family with a signed football and an Eagles jersey with Casey's number.
Casey was a four-year varsity letterman in football, and as the quarterback received back-to-back first team all-conference and one all-state honorable mention honors. During his career he threw for 4,506 yards and 43 touchdowns. In memory of Casey's achievements, the "CG17 Memorial Award" was created. A copy of the award was given to the family.
"Casey's selflessness and competitive mindset separated him from any other player in the division and on the field," said Forrest. "His refusal to lose and his overall leadership and selflessness in play is what made Casey Gillenwater a phenomenal player and person. The recipient of this award must exemplify the same qualities as Casey possessed. They must demonstrate great motivational drive and desire, with the intrinsic motivation to become great and to selflessly assist the team in any way possible.
"The recipient will be voted and selected by the coaches of the current year. It is a great achievement and an honor to receive this award in remembrance of a quality football player as well as a genuine person, Casey Gillenwater.
"Casey Gillenwater, you will be missed."