The Cedaredge Bruins won their first state football title on Saturday. KVNF sports reporter Tamie Meck traveled to Buena Vista for the championship game and has this report.
The last time the Bruins played in a championship football game was in 1994, when they placed second to Class 2A Rye High School. Team records date back as far as the 1920s.
But on Saturday, Cedaredge made history, claiming the state 1A football championship with an 18-16 win against the undefeated No. 1-ranked Buena Vista Demons. The sidelines swarmed with fans dressed in Bruin blue. Junior running back Reid Gates, who had 11 carries for 29 yards and one touchdown, was caught up in the celebration.
This has been the angle, this is what we were looking for. It was nice to get, but this is above and beyond. This is awesome.
The team waited all week to hear if senior starting quarterback Dante Markley would suit up. Markley missed the semifinal game against Hotchkiss due to a concussion, and as of Friday hadn't been cleared to play. Junior running back Trent Walker filled in for Markley against Hotchkiss and was prepared to play on Saturday. Markley was released just hours before the game. Rather than choose a starting quarterback, head coach Brandon Milholland made a last-minute decision to use both players.
I think Trent and Dante both did a great job. We just had certain things that we knew we could do well with Trent trying to play to his strengths, and then the same thing with Dante. So it was awesome to see Dante back to play in his last game as a senior.
Buena Vista had a 12-0 record and was favored to win. But the Bruins set the tone, containing one of the highest-scoring running backs in the state and holding the Demons to three-and-out on their game-opening possession. Then they did something no team has done all season: The Bruins scored on their opening drive against a Demon defense that has allowed only 66 points all season. The 72-yard drive ended on a one-yard touchdown run by senior Carter Wasser.
Gates scored on a three-yard run late in the second period and the Bruins led, 12-0, at halftime. Senior lineman Dustin Stracener says the team knew it was too early to start celebrating.
At halftime we just knew that we couldn't get complacent. They're a second half team. They come out firing all the time the second half. That's when they score most of their points. So we just knew that we had to come out and just keep playing our game, keep playing our defense, and we had them.
The Demons broke onto the scoreboard with a safety in the third period. With the score still at 12-2, and with less than five minutes left in the game, the Demons put up a 7-point combination to trail by three points.
With just over two minutes left in the game, Markley pitched the ball to Carter Wasser for an 8-yard touchdown run and an 18-9 lead. Less than 30 seconds later, Demon quarterback Koby Close connected on a 50-yard touchdown pass and the Demons trailed by two after the extra point kick. Buena Vista attempted an onside kick, but Carter Wasser recovered the ball and the Bruins were able to run out the clock.
Stracener, one of six Bruin seniors, credited the win to all of his teammates.
We are a team. We come together, we feed off of each other, we feed off of each other's good plays. We bring each other up. We don't bring each other down. We're a brotherhood, a true brotherhood. Feels great. It's all you can say about it. It feels great.
Milholland praised his coaching staff and says he can't say enough about each and every player.
It's a total team effort and we knew that's exactly what it would take to come in here and beat Buena Vista.
Looking ahead to next season, Milholland says it’s going to be tough replacing six seniors. But with a 12-1 record and a state championship under their belts, it looks pretty promising.