The 2019 fall sports season is history and local Delta County schools were major contributors in some of the year's biggest stories. With previous stories for early fall sports and athletes honored for their success, it's time to turn attention to those athletes who were honored for accomplishments in football and volleyball from Delta, Hotchkiss and Paonia.
Heading the list for Class 2A football honors is Delta High School. The Panthers had one of its best seasons since 1961 when Delta High School finished second in the state football playoffs after winning a title in 1960. This year's Panthers finished the year with an 11-2 season, with losses to 2A WSL champion, Rifle High School and the Class 2A state champion Sterling High School Tigers. Ranked fourth, and playing in the 2A state playoffs, Delta defeated No. 13 Pagosa Springs (44-0), in the opening round then edged No. 5 Faith Christian (37-35) in a semifinal round. A 17-6 win over league foe, and ninth-ranked Basalt to reach the finals against Sterling. Delta's run towards a second state football title fell a little over three and a half minutes short when the Tigers picked up a fumble to score a long touchdown to break a 19-19 tie and win the game 27-19.
Delta was honored for its excellence on the gridiron by landing 12 athletes on the 2019 All-Conference team, including five players on the first team. Those players named to the 2019 2A WSL All-Conference First Team were junior quarterback Nolan Bynum, senior wide receiver and defensive back Nate Workman, senior tight end and defensive end Gauge Lockhart, senior wide receiver and defensive back Hunter Hughes and senior offensive and defensive lineman Brandon Butler.
Receiving All-Conference honorable mention for the Panthers were juniors Colton Johnson (RB/DB), who finished the season with 67 tackles (three for loss), three sacks and two interceptions; Jeffrey Griffith (OL/DL), who completed the season with 52 tackles, two sacks and six tackles for loss; and James Goff (OL/DL) who was the WSL tackle leader with 97. Seniors receiving All-Conference honorable mention honors were Skylar Kraai (WR/FS) who finished fifth in league with 28 receptions, sixth in league with 325 yards receiving, three touchdowns and one interception; Ku La Moo (RB/DB) who tied for first in league with eight field goals (long 40 yards), sixth in league in rushing yards (680), five rushing touchdowns and 44 extra point kicks; Colby Wilson (WR/DB) who finished fourth in league with 92 tackles (with seven for loss); and Ethan Lawrence (OL/DL).
Delta High School's All-State First Team selections included Bynum, who led both 2A WSL and Class 2A statistics for passing with 2,556 yards, 151 completions and 34 touchdowns with a 120.1 passer rating. Bynum also rushed for 329 yards and nine touchdowns. The Panthers also had Hughes selected to the Class 2A All-State First Team as a league and state leader in receiving yards (1,026) and 17 touchdowns. Hughes was first in the WSL and third in state with 52 receptions, fourth in state in scoring (18 touchdowns) and led the league in interceptions (six) with one returned for a touchdown. Lockhart's contributions to Delta's success came on both offense and defense in 2019. As a First Team All-State selection, Lockhart tied for league leading honors with seven sacks, was fourth in league with 16 tackles for loss, had 64 tackles, rushed for two touchdowns and finished the year with 23 receptions for 434 yards and four touchdowns. Butler's first team selection was based on his league leading, and third in state, tackles for loss (26), a seventh place finish in league with 83 tackles, five rushing touchdowns and three blocked punts.
Second team Class 2A All-State honors went to Workman who was sixth in receptions and fourth in yards and touchdown receptions, Workman was second in league in receiving yards (794) with 10 touchdowns on 45 receptions, second in league in tackles (95), had one passing touchdown to finish with 829 all-purpose yards and had four interceptions.
In Class 1A, Hotchkiss High School finished the year at 7-3 and faced Highland High School in the opening round of the state playoffs. The Bulldogs lost that game but were successful in placing nine athletes on the 1A WSL All-Conference team and two on the All-State team for 2019.
Selected to the 1A WSL All-Conference team from Hotchkiss were senior Jace Peebles (RB/FS) who finished the year as the league's leading rusher with 1,774 yards, 17 touchdowns (15 by rushing and two on punt returns), 1975 all purpose yards and 86 tackles; senior Malykai Klaseen (RB/MlB) with a league-leading seven sacks, 74 tackles with 13 of those tackles resulting in loss yardage placing him second in the league for that category and the WSL Lineman of the Year award; senior Jacob Palecki (FS) with 342 receiving yards in the league to place sixth in that category, 18 receptions for two touchdowns and 69 tackles; junior Yahir Chavez (QB/OLB) who finished fourth in the league in passing yardage (395) with four passing touchdowns, 508 yards rushing and five touchdowns; junior Traycer Hall (FB/LB) who finished second in league with 112 tackles, finished third in league with 10 tackles for loss, had 364 yards rushing with two touchdowns and an interception for a touchdown; junior Adam Smith (RB/LB) who claimed the league and 1A state title for tackles for loss with 25, was the league leader in tackles an finished fourth in state with 133, had 183 yards rushing, two touchdowns and three sacks; sophomore Coulson Hollembeak (DE/C) who was selected to the 1A WSL All-Conference Honorable Mention list with 46 tackles (two for loss) and two sacks; senior Ethan Guy (C/DE) selected to the honorable mention list with 45 tackles (two for loss); and junior Oliver Mendoza (RB/DB) as an honorable mention selection who was second in league with six interceptions for 80 yards, one rushing touchdown, and 35 tackles.
Though Paonia High School finished 4-5 for the recent football season, the Eagles landed eight players on the 2019 All-Conference team and had two receive All-State recognition.
Paonia's 1A WSL All-Conference selections included junior Anthony Miller (RB/DB) with 231 yards, two touchdowns and 37 tackles; junior Dominic Felice (WR/DB) with the league's fifth best receiving yards (534), five touchdowns (ninth best in league) and 37 tackles; senior Grey Neal (QB/DB) who had the league's third best passing yards (540 with nine TD's), the fifth best rushing yardage (523 with two TD's), the fourth best all purpose yardage (1,063) and the fifth best number of tackles (86); senior Logan Green (RB/DB) with 471 (seventh in league) rushing yards, two TD's, one receiving TD, the league's second best PAT numbers (14), a league-leading two field goals, the league's second best kick scoring numbers with 20 and 34 tackles; senior Shane Odom OL/DL with 38 tackles and one sack for 15 yards; senior Austyn Norris (TE/OLB) with one rushing TD, 36 tackles and two sacks; senior Levi Peterson (OL/DL) with 43 tackles; and senior Justin Holt (OL/DE) with 32 tackles and third in league sacks with three for a loss of 17 yards.