Paonia junior tight end Joel Simianer knows what a difference a year can make.
Simianer, a three-year starter for the Paonia football team, caught two touchdown passes in the Eagles' 40-0 win over the defending state champion Cedaredge Bruins.
At last week's team dinner, Simianer told first-year head coach Brent McRae, "At this time last year we were saying, 'Let's just go get our butt-kicking tomorrow and turn in our gear Monday and get ready for wrestling.'"
They lost that game, 46-6.
This year, the Eagles reversed the outcome, shutting down the Bruin offense and putting the mercy rule continuous clock into motion with more than eight minutes remaining in the game.
"We had something special going on here," said Simianer after the win, which solidified the 1A Western Slope Conference title for Paonia and ensured a first-round home game this Saturday. "All these guys, they know we're family. Big players making big plays. That's how they do it."
The Eagles rushed for 243 yards and two touchdowns. They opened with a three-play, 63-yard scoring drive, capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by Will Austin with nine minutes remaining in the first quarter. After holding the Bruins to a three-and-out, Paonia moved the ball 80 yards in four plays, with Gunnar Chesnik completing the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run.
On Cedaredge's second possession, quarterback Trent Walker was picked off by Taylor Walters near mid-field.
Cedaredge regained possession on downs at the Paonia 9-yard line, but was forced to punt with 1:05 to go in the first period.
Ty Coats, who threw two touchdown passes, connected with Simianer for the next score, and freshman kicker Colby Simpson kicked his first of four PATs to put Paonia ahead, 19-0.
Jeramiah Hillman, a 6-foot-2, 160-pound sophomore, had been dominating the running game on junior varsity, said McRae. "So coaches said, 'Let's see what he can do on varsity.'" Hillman broke loose early in the second half with a 48-yard touchdown run. Simpson's PAT gave them a 26-0 lead with 9:55 remaining in the third quarter.
The Bruins made their longest drive of the game in the third period, and threatened to score from the 3-yard line, but couldn't punch through. Paonia took over on downs and moved the ball 95 yards, with Walters connecting with Simianer for the score; Simpson's PAT gave them a 33-point lead.
The Bruins took possession and were intercepted by Josh Altman at the Cedaredge 40, with 15 seconds remaining in the third.
McRae said that at that point, "It was like, all right, we got it."
Logan Schopp caught the final touchdown pass with 8:05 remaining in the game, and Simpson's PAT put the continuous clock in motion.
Paonia has not been scored on in eight quarters, and has had eight points scored against it in the last three games.
McRae also shared credit with his coaching staff of Scott Rienks, Don Holt, and his dad, Coach Pops. "Every day we're getting better. Every practice," said McRae, who told his team before the game to "have fun. That's why we're here."
"The biggest thing that we need to learn from a game like this tonight is to play like they played," said Cedaredge head coach Brandon Milholland. "They played hard from whistle to whistle, they played with class. You learn from your losses as much as you learn from your wins," said Milholland, whose Bruins finished this season at 6-3 overall, and at 3-2 are in third place in the conference behind Hotchkiss and Paonia. The Bruins will see some post-season action and are seeded 12th heading into first-round playoffs. They will face No. 5 Monte Vista (4-1 Southern Peaks conference) at 1 p.m. this Saturday, at Monte Vista.
"Hopefully we can just pull together and play hard like they did and play with desire," said Milholland. "And when you do that you have a whole lot of fun."
In 2A action, the Olathe Pirates are seeded 11th heading into their first-round playoff game.
The Pirates (6-3 overall, 6-1 Western League) ended a six-game winning streak Friday in a 25-22 loss to Gunnison. They will travel Saturday to face No. 6 Bennett (7-2, 5-0, Colorado League).blog comments powered by Disqus