The South Park Middle School football team has launched the 2019 season with a 1-0 record after smashing school rivals the Custer County Bobcats by a score of 24-8 in a West Central League home game Aug. 29.
“I was not sure how it would all turn out, because we had just recently worked up to game speed in practice, but was pleasantly surprised to see it all come together,” head coach Joe Wedow said.
Receiving the kickoff, the Burros were powered out in the initial drive, which only boosted their aggressiveness as they stopped the sturdy Bobcats on their first shot on the defending end.
“A big part of our victory was our defense. At first sight, Custer looked great, and our boys shut them down and just pushed on from there,” Wedow said.
The commanding Burro presence seemed to increase with each possession, and by halftime, the Burros dominated the scoreboard 24-0, scoring three touchdowns with an additional six points in conversions.
“Our starters took a strong lead so early on that it allowed us to make some changes and get some of the younger kids some playing time,” Wedow said.
Rotating the old hands amongst the novice players, the Burros remained confident on the defensive side and held their opponent from reaching the end zone until late into the fourth quarter, when the Bobcats finally maneuvered a touchdown with a successful two-point conversion prior to the final buzzer.
“We just kept changing things up and worked additional younger kids into the scheme, which was great to see almost everyone getting a chance to play,” Wedow said.
Having towered above their opponent in the regular scheduled game, the two challengers agreed to a fifth quarter, which was dictated primarily by the sixth and seventh grade squads in 10 plays on each end. Once again, the Burros controlled the field with a final score of 12-6.
Wedow, a veteran in the coaching world, having trained athletes for over three decades in various sports, is currently taking on an estimated 23rd year at the middle school level.
“I coached the middle school football team for around 13 years prior to taking a break and returning approximately 10 years ago,” he said.
Although the teacher of physical education at the Park County School District was on a break, he still continued to offer a helping hand during that seven year gap throughout practices.
The SPMS football team has grown on the leadership side as former high school defensive coordinator Steve Bargas has stepped amongst the coaching staff as the new middle school defensive coordinator and assistant coach.
“Steve has coached football for a very long time and I feel that we have a good working relationship. He is easy to get along with and has shown his expertise by helping on both sides of the ball, which I appreciate very much,” Wedow said.
Built from a solid core of players who are primed and in position to lead a firm lineup, the Burro will continue to take the gridiron with a 25-player roster.
Made up of eight eighth-graders (Noah Anderson, Jad Fogelsonger, Jayden Hamner, Luke Lindberg, JW Miller, Luke Mills, Dyllan Newman, and Matteus Newton) and eight seventh-graders (Calvin Brissey, Markus Halt-Stamper, Hunter Hanson, Christian McClure, Mason McEntire-Morgan, Jackson Miller, Louis Smith, and Aiden Wilson), the squad has also welcomed the addition of nine sixth-graders (Victor Almeida, Kian Bresnahan, Mason Curry, Adam Keeling, Ben Keeling, Tristan Lallande, Caleb Miller, Jarrett Nevius, and Charlie Ventura).
Preseason and beyond
Preparing for the season ahead, the coaching staff held back-to-back week-long, in-house camps prior to the start of the school year.
Since the camp was free of any fees and began with non-contact drills, all athletes were welcome to participate. It wasn’t until the second week that the coaches started to introduce hitting drills and only required the proper paperwork prior to receiving the essential gear and participation in these skills training sessions.
The early establishment of the team foundation has made the transition into the regular season much easier on the young players, as they were prepared to center their attentions toward the playbook and took zero time in dipping their toes into action once official practice began.
The Burros will now prepare to challenge the Del Norte Tigers in an away non-league game Sept. 12, followed by a home non-league game with Gilpin County Sept. 28.