Glenwood football’s Nieslanik, Huttenhower, Rifle’s Straw earn players of the year honors |

Glenwood football’s Nieslanik, Huttenhower, Rifle’s Straw earn players of the year honors

Demons coach Engle named Coach of the Year

Glenwood Springs Demon Blake Nieslanik runs the ball down the field during the state semifinal game against the Rifle Bears at Stubler Memorial Field on May 8.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Storybook spring football seasons for Glenwood Springs and Rifle high schools resulted in several players being picked by league coaches for the one-off 3A West All Conference team.

Among them were Glenwood juniors Blake Nieslanik and Teddy Huttenhower, who earned Back of the Year and Lineman of the Year honors, respectively, while Rifle senior Josh Straw was named Defensive Player of the Year.

Third-year Glenwood Springs head coach Pat Engle was selected Coach of the Year after leading the Demons to the regular season conference championship and a 7-1 overall record.

It was the rival Rifle Bears who ended the top-seeded Demons’ season in the 3A state semifinals 20-17, en route to winning the state title over The Classical Academy.

Along the way, Glenwood’s Nieslanik rushed for 1,009 yards on the season, averaging 9.3 yards per carry and scoring nine rushing touchdowns, according to statistics reported to Colorado.

He also had 125 yards receiving and caught four touchdown passes — second only to cousin senior Wheatley Nieslanik, also a first-team pick, who caught for 205 yards and four touchdowns.

Huttenhower and Straw were big parts of their respective team’s defense, an aspect of the game that defined both the Demons and Bears this season.

Rifle Bear Josh Straw reacts after a play during the 3A spring state title game against The Classical Academy at CSU Pueblo on May 15.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Straw was the backbone of a stout Bears defense, finishing the season with an impressive 54 solo tackles and assisting on 31. He also had seven sacks.

For his part, Huttenhower had 10 solo tackles and assisted on 41 others for the Demons.

Area 3A West All-Conference selections

First Team

Glenwood Springs: Blake Nieslanik, Teddy Huttenhower, Garrett Dollahan, Wheatley Nieslanik, Stephen Morris, Ian Cecil-Hoerl

Rifle: Josh Straw, Kaden Wolf, Embrey Marantino, Bryce Rowley

Coal Ridge: Jackson Wade, Andrew Herrera, Karsen DuBois

Basalt: Ruble Alvarado, Matty Gillis, Sam Sherry, Gavin Webb, Trevin Beckman

Aspen: Storm Silich, Noah Akin, Zack Small

Honorable Mention

Glenwood Springs: Zach Cecil-Hoerl, Elo Garcia, Jeremy Bradshaw, Brady Porter, Jeffrey Lowe, Nolan McPherson

Rifle: Toto Fletchall, Trey Caldwell, Giovanni Gonzalez, Jesse Rivera, Gavin Peterson, Cannon Wall

Coal Ridge: Jason McHatten, Keelan Frees, Jonathan McCartney, Brandon Short

Basalt: Bogarin Ubaldo, Teegan Card, Jose Castorena, Carson Jenkins, Clayton Daniel, Wilson Maytham

Aspen: Cole Kennedy, Ahmed Hmani, Nate Thomas

In a normal year, Glenwood Springs would play in the 3A Western Slope League, and Rifle, Coal Ridge and Basalt would play in the 2A WSL. This school year, however, with the split fall and spring football seasons due to delays and restrictions caused by the COVID-19, those area schools were grouped with Aspen, Cortez, Steamboat Springs and Salida in the temporary 3A West alignment.

Many of the usual WSL schools, including Moffat County, Cedaredge and Delta in the 2A ranks and Palisade, Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley and Summit in 3A played during the fall season.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or

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