Coal Ridge football players are bottom feeders no more |

Coal Ridge football players are bottom feeders no more

Jon Mitchell
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

PEACH VALLEY, Colorado – Gone are the days of the Coal Ridge High School football team being an afterthought for its opponents.

And the Titans know it.

“The kids have set their goals a little higher this year,” said Titans coach Scott Parker, whose team reached the Class 2A state playoffs for the first time in school history last season. “Last year, our goal was simply to compete in [Western Slope League] play, and we did that.

“For years, Aspen and Olathe have been the teams to beat in league play,” the coach continued. “We’ve got to prove that we can beat them if we want to take that next step.”

Obviously, Coal Ridge wants to improve on last year’s 7-4 overall and 4-3 league records to take that next step. And the Titans proved part of Parker’s statement in 2010, as their 27-14 win over the Skiers on Oct. 22 helped solidify their place in the postseason.

But Coal Ridge wants more than just respect from its league counterparts in 2011. With 16 seniors and a slew of returning starters (nine on offense and defense) on the squad, the Titans feel even a league title isn’t out of the question.

“Our expectations this year, well, we’re not selling ourselves short at all,” said Cody Walls, a senior who finished the season with 15 touchdowns and 1,446 all-purpose yards. “But, at the same time, we’re not even talking about the state playoffs or a league title. We have to go one step at a time before that.”

The Titans heavily depended on Walls, who had seven interceptions and 106 total tackles on defense while leading the team in rushing (548 yards on 95 carries) and receiving (27 receptions for 476 yards).

Senior slotback Brent Hazzard (473 yards) and running back Cameron Cotton (303 yards) will share lots of time in the backfield, and senior quarterback Robby Moore is expected to have at least four viable receiving options to throw to.

That diversity could be key to an offense which proved sporadic in 2010. Though the Titans averaged 20.5 points per game last season, they were shut out three times, including a 29-0 loss to Basalt in the week following their win against Aspen.

“Repetition is the big key there,” Parker said. “All summer long, we’ve been working consistency through repetition. We’ve got to have that to be able to improve on last year, especially in these first few games before league play.”

Defensively, the Titans expect to rely primarily on team speed. Five players return among last year’s starters on the front line, however, bringing that much-needed consistency to the defensive unit that remained consistent last season.

“We have a lot of speed and a whole lot of strength up front,” senior defensive end Anthony Walker said. “We have so much experience. A lot of the players who are starters this year started from their freshman year up until now. Nobody’s out there thinking too much. Everybody knows what to do.”

And it seems quite a few people know a little bit about Coal Ridge, too.

The Titans received some votes in the Denver Post’s first statewide media poll in Class 2A, with Olathe garnering a No. 3 ranking and Aspen earning a spot in the poll at No. 5. Even Basalt, which earned a postseason berth for the first time since 1986 last season, received a few votes.

That goes to show how tough the league’s competition will be. It also goes to show that, based on last year’s performance, Coal Ridge is no longer seen as a proverbial bottom feeder in the league.

The Titans are just fine with that.

“It was nice to kind of fly under the radar and show people we can play,” Cotton said. “But people know who we are and will know a little more what to expect from us. We’ll just make it a point to come out firing harder than they do.”

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