By standards of seasons past, the 2019 gridiron campaign was not the usual norm for play from Paonia High School’s and Cedaredge High School’s football teams. The Eagles finished the year at 2-3 in 1A WSL standings and were 4-5 overall. Cedaredge was winless in league play and was 2-7 overall.
Paonia scored first on Nov. 1 when Logan Green gathered in a 10-yard pass from Eagles’ quarterback Grey Neal. The kick for extra point failed leaving Paonia with a 6-0 lead.
The Bruins came back in the first period to score their only touchdown of the game on Dusty Emig’s 2-yard run. The PAT try failed and each team had six points heading to the second quarter.
Paonia ballooned its lead to 20-6 with the addition of touchdowns from Dom Felice on a 10-yard pass play from Neal, and Elijah Evans’ 8-yard pass from Neal. Green booted both extra points following the two touchdowns giving Paonia a 14-point halftime lead.
The Eagles scored three more times in the third quarter on a 2-yard run by Anthony Miller and a 26-yard pass to Jai Petmezas. Austyn Norris tacked on two more points after tackling the Bruins’ punter in the end zone for a safety to give the Eagles a comfortable 36-6 lead with one quarter left to play.
Neal scooted into the end zone from 2-yards out and Norris scored the final Eagles’ touchdown from 4-yards out in the fourth quarter. Green’s extra point kicks made the final score 51-6.
Both head coaches in the game had seasons they would like to have been more successful. With new coaches in each of the programs there were issues that could not be forseen, or corrected easily.
“It was a rough way to end the season,” noted Cedaredge head coach Craig Cerise. “We had been in a bad slide already. Our kids and coaches did the best they could with filling in for injured players.”
Cerise did not use the injury factor as an excuse, but also found them to make practice and game days more challenging. An overall assessment of the past season puts the year in perspective.
“I think throughout the season, the kids really played together as a team and stuck with each other,” he said. “We (coaches) really preached the win this week versus looking ahead and trying to speculate on the rest of the season. We’ll miss the seniors but almost the entire team will be back next year and we look forward to progressing with them.”
The Eagles were in the same situation with a new coach at the helm. Eric Neal admits the challenge of keeping players engaged for a complete season was a difficult task. Neal had a change in philosophy and made adjustments for improvement.
“In the last two weeks of the season I decided to make the game fun in all aspects and the team played much better after that,” he said.
Neal explained there were some off field issues that had a negative effect on the team, but as the season came to a close, the team became a family again.