Recognition for athletic accomplishment is good. Recognition for a strong process is better.
Several players for the North Fork High School football team received all-conference honors for the 1A Western Slope conference late last week.
Coulson Hollembeak, Carter Neff, Blaine Peebles, Dakota Shelden, Drayden Taylor and Mordecai White were first-team selections while Lane Allen, Diezel Balko and Malachi Deck were honorable mentions.
“We’ve just been fortunate in Paonia and Hotchkiss to have talented athletes and great, hard-working kids,” Miners coach Curtis Hintz said. “This is year 19 in the area for me and it doesn’t matter if I’ve coached them or coached against them, kids from this area have an incredible legacy. This group continued those traditions and it’s good to see their hard work recognized.”
North Fork was seeded No. 8 in the state playoffs and was eventually eliminated by top-seeded Limon in the quarterfinals. Still, the Miners finished with the fourth-ranked scoring offense at 37.1 points per game and fourth-ranked rushing attack with 256.4 yards per game.
On defense, the Miners were a top 15 unit in opposing scoring and were second in the classification in both tackles (986) and sacks (29).
Hollembeak and Peebles were named the lineman and returner of the year, respectively, and were both selected to play in the Colorado High School Coaches Association All-State Game at CSU-Pueblo in June.
Hollembeak led 1A with 14 sacks and helped anchor the Miners’ offensive front. Hintz said there was high praise for Hollembeak at the 1A Western Slope Conference coach’s meeting.
“To have a player recognized for the second year in a row says a lot about him,” Hintz said. “But what stuck with me was in the coach’s meeting. Coach (Shane) Phelan up in Meeker said ‘I’ll nominate somebody, but nobody is the same caliber as 66 (Hollembeak’s jersey number). When a coach who’s been doing it as long as he has says something like that, you know you have a kid doing good things.”
Peebles averaged 44.6 yards across nine returns to lead Class 1A, bringing several back to the end zone. His average kickoff return was 40.7 yards, again best in the classification.
Peebles was also the Miners’ leading receiver with 30 catches, 744 yards and seven touchdowns.
“It’s great when your most talented kids are also your hardest workers,” Hintz said. “All of these guys dedicated themselves in the weight room and the offseason. They did a good job representing not only our valley, but 1A Western Slope Conference football.”