Will Austin scores one of four touchdown runs Saturday in Paonia’s 38-6 win over Dolores. The Eagles host Roaring Fork this Friday, which is also the start of 1A Western Slope League play. It is also Homecoming for the Eagles.
Saturday's 38-6 win over Dolores couldn't have come at a better time. It was the first win of the season for the Eagles, who are playing one of their toughest early-season schedules in recent years.
Running back Will Austin had his best game of the season, making 18 carries for 104 yards and four touchdowns.
"I don't know if that was in the plan, but it just worked out that way," said Austin. "It was a good game by everyone, really. Can't do it without the linemen, that's for sure."
The timing was right, since the Eagles open 1A Western Slope League competition this Friday against Roaring Fork. "It turned out good for us," said Austin. "I think we can start building on this and keep improving from here."
Two of three losses, to Basalt and Centauri, were by a total of 8 points. Paonia lost possession on six fumbles in its 7-6 loss at Centauri.
Against Dolores, the Eagles had two fumbles and one turnover.
"We needed this and we needed to do it the right way," said head coach Scott Rienks.
Quarterback Ty Coats connected for three first-down passes in the first half, including a midfield pass to Taylor Katzer to put the ball on the Bears' two and set up the second touchdown run for Austin.
Fullback Morgan Rieder scored the opening touchdown on a six-yard run following a fumble by the Bears on their own 30 yard line just two plays into their opening possession. Reider had six carries for 27 yards and recovered a Paonia fumble.
Paonia led 24-0 at the half and never allowed the Bears offense into its territory. On their opening second-half possession, the Bears recovered a Paonia fumble at their own 47. Bears running back Cody Carroll ran for two first downs and ended the 53-yard drive on a six-yard touchdown run. The Bears failed to convert on the PAT. It would be the Bears' only successful drive of the game.
"We started to get down," said quarterback Ty Coats, "but we picked it back up."
The Eagles forced a Bears fumble with just over six minutes left in the game to set up a 19-yard touchdown run by Taylor Walters — a first for the freshman running back and back-up quarterback, who plays at safety for the Paonia defense. "We worked on some things this week with Taylor. We're using him more in the run option," said Rienks. "He's got speed."
Roaring Fork (1-3) is one of two new teams in the 1A Western Slope League. They will be hungry for a win after a three-game losing streak that included a 42-14 loss to Ridgeview Academy. Paonia will have to contain six-foot-five senior Rams receiver Trae Moxley, who has committed to play for Colorado State University. "He's the real deal," said Rienks. A big focus in practice will be on containing him.
"It's going to be a good game," said Coats. "If we play like we did today, then we should be good."
It's homecoming week, added Coats, the school president. "Oh man, it's crazy. Every night there's something else, and you've got do your school work first." But with their first win behind them, "It's way good," said Coats. "We got that barrier off our back now."