Middle Park football reflects on season after ending on a high note
For the Middle Park football team, leadership wasn’t measured by wins and losses this fall, but how the Panthers carried themselves and refused to quit, just ask their coaches.
“What we are trying to teach is dedication to the process, dedication to teammates and being a good human being,” Coach Ryan Ledford said via email. “The little choices that we make every day add up in the end. You can always make things better — it is a choice.”
Perhaps the best example of Middle Park’s never-give-up attitude showed up in the team’s season ending victory over Arvada, a slugfest that Middle Park won 13-8 on Oct. 31, senior night, as the temperatures plummeted into the single digits.
“Senior quarterback Gabe Loberg said it best to me on the field after the Arvada game, that even though they didn’t win as many games as they wanted, he will remember this season forever,” Coach Jason Nagel recalled.
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Nagel explained that the team endured great adversity this year after losing their head coach very early in the season and suffering an overwhelming number of injuries as the year progressed.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the way they rallied together, lead by the seniors, to finish strong and to set an example for Panther football players on how to never give up,” Nagel said.
Over the phone, senior Shug Reynolds, an anchor on the Panthers’ offensive and defensive lines, talked about how he and many of his teammates have been playing together since they were in sixth grade. Reynolds said he will remember the bonds they created the most and, of course, the game vs. Arvada.
“It was surreal,” he said of the last game of his high school career. “That whole night is just stuck in my memory like no other game.”
It seems the players won’t be the only ones with the victory stuck in their minds either, as the game also made a lasting impression on the Panthers’ coaching staff.
“The gritty win against Arvada on senior night was the most gratifying win in my four seasons with MPHS football,” coach David Polei said. “To see this group of seniors end their football careers with a home win on the last night that they will ever play high school football was deeply satisfying. They have been a special group ever since their freshman year and have always conducted themselves with class and dignity on and off the field.”
The season didn’t come without some individual accolades too, including the all conference honors announced during the team’s banquet.
At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Reynolds was a force to be reckoned with on both sides of the ball, which is why he was named first team all-conference for both offense and defense.
“I thought it was pretty cool,” Reynolds said of the dual honor, adding that he enjoys playing defense more but has worked hard to be good on offense too.
Other Panthers to earn all-conference honors were wide receiver and defensive back Evan Laraby, linebacker Kyle Brumley and quarterback Gabe Loberg.
Below are some of Middle Park’s senior team leaders, 2019 all-conference honors and their season and/or career stats.
Shug Reynolds — First team all-conference offense and defensive line. Reynolds has been nominated to play in the 2A All-State spring football game. Career Stats: 45 solo tackles, 90 total tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 9 sacks, 16 hurries, 8 pancake blocks and a field goal block.
Kyle Brumley — Honorable mention all conference linebacker and offensive lineman. Brumley led the league in 2019 with 97 tackles. Career Stats: 41 solo tackles, 107 total tackles, 6 hurries, 4 blocked kicks, 5 pancake blocks and a sack.
Gabe Loberg — Honorable mention all-conference quarterback and second team all-conference punter. Career Stats: 1,522 passing yards, 662 rushing yards, 27 TDs, 110 tackles, 4 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. Loberg also set the school record with 15 TD passes in 2018 and led the league in TD passes that year.
Evan Laraby — Second team all conference wide receiver and defensive back. Career Stats: 22 receptions, 234 yards, 3 TDs, 616 return yards, 80 tackles and 12 interceptions. Laraby recorded second highest INT total in the state in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, and he led league and was ranked as high as No. 2 in the state with six interceptions in 2019.
Alec Laraby — Career Stats: 17 receptions, 247 yards, 1 TD, 295 return yards, 1 forced fumble, 49 total tackles.
Paul Eichler — Season Stats: 68 total tackles, 2 sacks, 2 hurries, 3 pancake blocks and 29 rushing yards.
James Gallegos — 357 rushing yards, 4 TDs, 81 total tackles, 4.5 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, 1 interception.
Jaydon Guzman — Season Stats: 38 total tackles, 2 sacks, 3 hurries, 32 rushing yards.
Other senior team leaders — center Wyatt Hoskins and Micha Giordano on special teams.
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