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  • Snow, Ice, and Wind Not Enough to Slow Down Eads in 75-26 Playoff Victory
Sophomore running back Stockton Mitchek endured a lot of abuse during the cold and physical state 6-man playoff game against North Park on Saturday.
Holly Mitchek

Snow, Ice, and Wind Not Enough to Slow Down Eads in 75-26 Playoff Victory

By Betsy Barnett

November 9, 2022

The No. 9 Eads Eagles got a satisfying win on the road over No. 8 North Park in the first round of the state playoffs in a 75-26 romping. The win advanced Eads to the 6-man Colorado state quarterfinals round against the undefeated (11-0) Stratton Eagles who ousted Prairie on Saturday.

The Eads Eagles football team and their fans had quite an adventure over the weekend as they took off on Friday for a 350 mile, 5 ½ hour trip to Walden, Colorado, home of the North Park Wildcats. Yes, it’s 5 ½ hours on a good day, but what they ran into was not good—the first snowstorm of the winter season. The weather kept them driving along the front range corridor and into Laramie, WY for the night instead of heading into the mountains and having to face a mountain pass in snowy weather.

On Saturday, they dropped down south to Walden where crews were using bull dozers to clear off the half a foot of snow that had fallen on Friday and was still coming down on Saturday. They did what they could, but the field conditions could best be described as snowy, icy, wet and COLD.

Head coach Trey Eder said of the experience, “With long travel distances and overnight stays you never really know what to expect and how kids will respond on game day. The hour-long travel from Laramie to Walden brought its own challenges with high winds and snow along the way. It was snowing and the field was covered when we arrived. It was windy and blowing snow a couple hours before game time. They boys, however, were excited for the conditions and were mentally prepared for it when we arrived and looking forward to the game and the conditions. When we got dressed and headed out to the field we were forced to move around the field for warm-ups as they had a loader and sweeper out on the field clearing it trying to make it playable for game time. The North Park volunteers did a good job of clearing and making the field the best possible for game time and our boys were excited for the game to begin. They had the mentality that we did not travel that far to go home with a loss, and they showed that from the opening kickoff.”

The Eagles scored on their first possession as they quickly moved the ball down the field culminating in a 14-yard touchdown run by sophomore backer Stockton Mitchek. The Porter Spady 2-point PAT kick was dead-on, and Eads grabbed the early 8-0 lead at the 8:45 mark of the first quarter.

Eder said of the way his boys responded to the conditions, “We scored on our first possession and really never looked back. The conditions made it tough as the wind was strong, which forced the game to pretty much be played on the ground. And the running game was not easy as the footing was slick on the frozen field. The blocking had to be solid as it would take time for the backs to make sure they would get the ball and then get going. Not many cuts as it was straight forward running. We were able to throw the ball a few times during the game to keep the opponent off balance just enough to allow us to dominate on the ground.”

Eads lost site of North Park’s Makeon Crum who came back and scored from 5 yards out after making two long runs prior to the touchdown. The PAT kick was blocked leaving the score with 7:30 left in the first period in Eads’ favor, 8-6.

After that it was all Eads for the rest of the first quarter and throughout the second quarter as they scored four times leaving the halftime score at 40-6.

At the 7:00 mark of the first junior backer Bo Arnold found a huge hole and ran the ball to the end zone from 31 yards out. The Spady kick was good making the score 16-6.

Then at the 5:00 minute mark of the first quarter, Arnold again punched the ball in from 1 yard out after Eads easily moved the ball down the field. The Spady kick was again good, and the score was 24-6 after the first stanza.

Starting the second quarter, Mitchek powered the ball into the end zone from a yard out and the Spady kick was good—Eads up 32-6.

The final score did come from the air as Spady, at the QB position, found his big end Keenan Smith for a 7-yard touchdown pass play. Spady hit his PAT kick and the score was 40-6 at intermission.

Coming out in the third quarter Eads was slow to get rolling and North Park’s Crum took advantage scoring on a surprise 33-yard touchdown run. The kick was no good, but the Wildcats had sent a message they were not quite finished with the score at 40-12.

Eads continued to run the ball well and scored twice in the third quarter with both coming from Mitchek. At the 7:30 mark of the third Mitchek punched the ball in from one yard out and Spady continued to be perfect on the PATs leaving the score at 48-12.

Mitchek then broke loose for an electrifying 57-yard touchdown run making the score 54-12.

Eads then allowed the Wildcats to score on the kick-off leaving the score at 54-19.

With 3:00 minutes left in the third quarter Spady found Smith for a 14-yard touchdown pass play. Spady’s kick was good again leaving the score at the end of the third quarter, 62-19.

Midway through the fourth quarter the Wildcats managed to score again making the score 62-26.

Mitchek answered with another 1-yard punch making the score 68-26 with 5:45 left in the game.

The youngsters for Eads then took over and Eads enjoyed seeing the future as freshman backer Shaine Winder made a strong, 12-yard touchdown run with just a minute to go in the game. Freshman QB Karsten Buller found freshman Johnny Vasquez for the extra point conversion pass play leaving the score at 75-26.

Eder said of the North Park final score, “It was a memorable game not only because it was a playoff game but because of the snowy conditions. Many of the boys said it was one of the funnest games they have ever played in.”

Eads generated 449 yards of offense in the game and held the Wildcats to 276 yards. Obviously, the success came on the ground as the running game generated 383 yards to North Park’s 198 yards. The air game was limited as Eads scored two touchdowns from the air in just 66 yards gained while North Park did a bit better generating 78 yards.

Spady completed 4 of 5 passes for 66 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Smith was Spady’s favorite target as the junior had 3 receptions for 38 yards and 2 touchdowns. Mitchek had one reception for 28 yards.

On the ground Mitchek carried 17 times for 174 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Arnold carried 14 times for 167 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Winder carried twice for 27 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, Smith and Spady led the way with 10 tackles, a fumble recovery, and an interception apiece. Arnold added 8 tackles, Connor Wollert had 5 tackles and a fumble recovery, and Mitchek added 5 tackles as well.

Eads now has to figure out a way to contend with the high-octane offense of the undefeated Stratton Eagles who are highly favored to win the state championship. The Eagles generate 326 yards each game on the ground utilizing two strong backers in senior Alex Cruz (1,215 yards on 83 carries) and junior Cyler Notter (710 yards on 59 carries). Their air attack is not as dangerous although Stratton uses junior Charlie Tagtmeyer at the QB spot who has completed 22 passes for 550 yards.

Eder is ready to approach Stratton head on, “We have a tough battle ahead of us, as Stratton has beat each of their opponents this year via a running clock. This will make it a huge challenge for us to be able to come up with a big game plan for both sides of the ball. Their defense is tough and along with that they have a high scoring offense. We are looking forward to the challenge and will have a good week of film and practice to prepare.”

The state quarterfinals game will be hosted by Eads and is scheduled for 1:00 pm on Saturday, November 12. Gates open at 11:30 am.

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