Middle Park sports are up and running
Middle Park athletes are off and running...and kicking...and throwing, and intern Ethan Boekers has the inside scoop. Here are football, soccer and cross-country. Volleyball and softball are up next.
For Sky-Hi News
With school back in session for several weeks, student athletes are taking the field for the Middle Park Panthers. Football, boys soccer, volleyball, cross-country, and the newest addition to the sports roster, girls softball, all kicked off their seasons playing their first few games in the last month.
A young football roster has big shoes to fill with the loss of multiple senior starters. But veteran coach Ryan Ledford believes they have a good shot at a winning season and a potential spot in the state playoffs.
Ledford and company kicked off their season at home Aug. 26 against Pinnacle, winning in a 16-0 shutout in large part to fantastic defense which accounted for a pick-six touchdown from senior Xavier Martinez. Under center for the Panthers is senior Forest Schofield, who has found his groove after winning the starter spot this year. Martinez, who also plays running back, accounted for 79 yards rushing and a touchdown on 7 carries. Micah Byrum led the team in tackles, with seven total. Schofield sealed the game with an interception late in the fourth quarter.
The Panthers traveled to Estes Park Sept. 1 to battle it out for the Trail Ridge Trophy. After losing last year, the team was hungry to bring the prize home. Tanner Schnurr, a junior, led the team with 85 rushing yards, while junior Garret Gillest racked up 11 total tackles. But Middle Park would come up short losing 34-19 to Estes.
The team hosted the Steamboat Sailors Sept. 9 and managed to put up some solid numbers on defense in the home loss. Martinez would account for 14 total tackles, followed by Byrum with 10 tackles. Sophomore safety Marques Pasillas also snaged an interception. Ultimately, the Panthers offense couldn’t get things going, managing 87 total yards on the ground and in the air. The team was shut out, 29-0.
On Sept. 16 the team traveled to Arvada to face off against the Bulldogs. The teams came out of the first quarter tied 7-7, before Arvada scored 34 unanswered points in the final three quarters, winning by a final score of 41-7.
The Panthers are in a bye week and will face the Denver Christian Thunder as the homecoming game next Friday, Sept. 30.
Jordy Macnamee, in his second year as the boys’ head coach, has a motto: “Always be growing.”
The team has followed it since practice started back in August. When asked about the performance against Moffat, Macnamee said, “It was a great team win but there (are) always places to improve and grow, especially getting these younger guys up to speed and everyone working together.”
After coming off a disappointing playoff loss last year, the boys soccer team has attacked this season with a vengeance, hoping for a return to the state playoffs for year four in a row.
Following the loss of key seniors, the team, with six returning starters, reloaded with a large freshman and sophomore class, which have stepped up in the empty roles.
On Aug. 20, the team traveled to KIPP Denver Collegiate and while they fought hard, they fell to the Tigers 4-0. The first home game brought another league opponent in DSST Montview on Aug. 31, and Middle Park won 5-2. Senior Solomon led the team with 3 assists and senior Brady Paugh punched in 2 goals. Sophomore goalie Carter Chamberlain had 5 saves on 7 shots on goal.
Next up, the Panthers hosted Jefferson in a fierce Sept. 7 league matchup. Solomon put up 2 goals and 2 assists, leading the Panthers to a 6-1 victory over the Saints. With a short week, the team hosted the Bennet Tigers just three days later. The Panthers managed to beat the Tigers 7-1 with Brady Paugh’s and 2 goals from fellow Senior Ryan Bole. Solomon continued his assist streak with 3 assists in the game.
The Panthers faced a familiar opponent in Moffat County on Sept. 12 at home. Eight Panthers scored, including star sophomore Leo Zunig, who earned a hat trick. Middle Park finished off the Bulldogs in a 12-2 massacre.
Two days later, Sept. `14, the Englewood Pirates beat the Panthers on a free kick in the waning minutes of the game, 2-1. Brady Paugh was the only scorer, continuing his five-game goal streak.
The Panthers lost 0-1 to Basalt on Saturday, Sept. 17. They’ll be on the road until Saturday, Oct. 1, when they will face the Bruce Randolph Grizzlies for their homecoming game at 1 p.m.
Middle Park science teacher Brian Sepala coaches the cross-country team, which is hungry for another strong season. Led by two seniors, Calvin Ciccereli and Ewan Gallagher, the Panthers are on the hunt for the top spot in the 3A division.
Their first stop: Basalt, for the Longhorn Invitational on Aug. 27.
Sophomore Josie Nance took the top spot for the Panthers, placing ninth, and junior Dane Jensen placed 14th. The boys made the podium, taking third behind Coal Ridge (second) and Fruita Monument (first).
The runners traveled to the Liberty Bell Invitational 5K with over 40 schools in attendance from Wyoming and Colorado. Middle Park competed in the 3rd division with other 3A schools. Josie Nance was the top finisher again, coming in at 14th place, and for the boys, Dane Jensen finished 46th. The team’s overall score landed them in 13th place at the meet.
Middle Park hosted their one and only meet at Snow Mountain Ranch tomorrow, Sept. 24. The invitational race will be a 5K with 8 teams from across the state. Girls will start at 10:15 a.m., followed shortly thereafter by the boys at 10:45 a.m., at the Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic center.
Check back Wednesday for Middle Park High School senior and Sky-Hi reporting intern Ethan Boekers’ story about the 2022 girls’ volleyball and softball seasons.
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