Glenwood’s Nieslanik, Huttenhower, Rifle’s Straw earn spring 3A players of the year
Glenwood Springs coach Pat Engle was named coach of the year
Glenwood Springs 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 MaxPreps.com 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.
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.
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: Rulbe Alvarado, Matty Gillis, Sam Sherry, Gavin Webb, Trevin Beckman
Aspen: Storm Silich, Noah Akin, Zack Small
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.
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The winter prep season is upon us. But before we look toward this year, let’s flashback to last winter and recap what happened between the Aspen and Basalt teams. The 2020-21 winter seasons were overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic, with shortened schedules and cancellations.