August 24, 2022
 | 8:27 am

Pigskin preps

Pueblo teams eager for football season's first snap

SPECIAL TO THE PUEBLO STAR JOURNAL
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Colts defensive lineman Matt Baca rushes the quarterback during their scrimmage against Air Academy Aug. 19, 2022, at Dutch Clark Stadium. (Mike Sweeney, Special to The Pueblo Star Journal)
Colts defensive lineman Matt Baca rushes the quarterback during their scrimmage against Air Academy Aug. 19, 2022, at Dutch Clark Stadium. (Mike Sweeney, Special to The Pueblo Star Journal)

The 2022 high school football season is upon us and Pueblo is gearing up for a competitive and gritty autumn. Pueblo had a young league in 2021. Though every team lost key players to graduation, there will be no shortage of young talent on display this season. A competitive and challenging season awaits each team that steps onto the field.

This year brings changes to class 3A. Traditionally, all five Pueblo 3A teams – Centennial, Central, County, East and South – and Cañon City competed in one league. Starting this season, the class is separated into three leagues. League 1 includes Centennial, Central, South, Harrison, Lewis-Palmer and Sierra. Cañon City, County, East, Discovery Canyon, Mitchell and Sand Creek will compete in League 2. League 3 teams are Battle Mountain, Durango, Eagle Valley, Glenwood Springs, Palisade and Summit.

Pueblo West competes in class 4A. 

See here for the full schedule for every local team. Pueblo’s three big rivalry games will take place on Sept. 2 (Pigskin Classic), Sept. 23 (Cannon Game) and Oct. 7 (Bell Game). 

Here is a mini-guide to each Pueblo school’s upcoming season. Dolores Huerta and Rye high schools were also contacted but did not respond before deadline.

Centennial Bulldogs (class 3A League 1)

Coach: Jeff Wilson, first year (32nd as a Pueblo football coach)

2021 record: 1-8

Key returners: Uli Fesuluai, quarterback, senior; Logan Marquez, running back/defensive back, senior; Jayden Hudran, running back/wide receiver, sophomore; Blake Roberts, running back/wide receiver, senior; Yeshawah Lewis, wide receiver/defensive back, senior; Nathan Sheppard, offensive/defensive line, senior
Key matchups: Aug. 26 vs. Mitchell; Oct. 21 vs. Sierra

Coach’s perspective: “When I retired a few years back, I didn’t ever expect myself to be a head coach again. I always wanted to coach again in high school, but I never thought I would be a head coach.

“Being a head coach you have to do a lot of stuff that isn’t very fun, but at the same time when an opportunity came about I just got excited about it… especially when I met them and I was around them this summer. They threw some gas on the fire that was already there. That’s what I hope I can do with them. I’m looking forward to all aspects of it. I’m looking forward to a great season.”

Central Wildcats (3A League 1)

Coach: Kris Cotterman, sixth year

2021 record: 5-5

Key players: Mariano Romero Garcia, OL/DL, senior; Josiah Barela,  QB/WR/DB, junior; Chris Bojorquez, linebacker, junior; Amari Brown, RB, sophomore; Jordan Atencio, RB/DB, senior; Michael Montoya RB/LB, junior; Genaro Pino, LB, sophomore

Key games: Sept. 1 vs. East; Nov. 4 vs. South

Coach’s perspective: "Summer has been really good. This is one of the first years where we have a lot of this team committed to the weight room. We probably have 22 guys who are lifting (a total of) 1,000 pounds across four lifts (and) 15 guys benching over 250 pounds. We’ve never had numbers like that. We have some bigger kids, which has kind of been something that we haven’t had. We haven’t had those big lineman-type kids and we have them this year, so hopefully we’re better up front.”

County Hornets (3A League 2)

Coach: Ramon Enriquez, first season

2021 record: 7-4, lost in first round of playoffs

Key players: Cody Lanier, RB/LB, senior; Mario Perez, RB/LB, senior; Patrick Noga, RB, sophomore; Jacob Kuhn, WR/LB, senior; Jonathan Gonzales, WR/DB, junior; Mario Perez, RB/LB, senior; Ken Shorten, tight end/DL, senior

Key matchups: Aug. 26 vs. South; Sept. 16 vs. Fort Morgan

Coach’s perspective: “I’m excited for our guys to show what they can do. They’re working hard during camp; they’re competing every day. One of my biggest things is getting those guys to compete – try to put them in game situations as much as possible during camp and practice. Situational football is my big thing.

“I learned a lot from coach (Monte) Pinkerton (at Pueblo West). I coached under him for almost 15 years. Getting to learn from one of the best in Pueblo was a great experience for me, but now to be in that leadership role, to finally get the chance to put into practice what I’ve wanted to, has been great. I’ve gotten to know everyone at the school the last three years. I’m excited to be in this role and the team is excited about this season.” 

East Eagles (3A League 2)

Coach: Tony Valdez, third year (13th at East)

2021 record: 5-5, lost in first round of playoffs

Key players: Tatum Rivera, QB/RB/DB, senior; Daniel Badillo, WR/DB, senior; Zayden Stevens, QB, sophomore; Greg Guerra, WR/DB, senior; Caleb Lucero, WR/DB, senior; Sebastian Freeman, DB, senior; Isaiah Garcia, RB/LB, sophomore

Key games: Oct. 27 at Discovery Canyon; Nov. 3 vs. County

Coach’s perspective: “The whole state is about to find out who Zayden Stevens is, if they haven’t already. He’s done a great job this summer leading the team as a sophomore. The guys love to follow him. He’s charismatic and he has another great sophomore next to him in the backfield, Isaiah Garcia. These young guys play well beyond their years and if they mesh well with these upperclassmen, it's going to be a fun team to watch.”

Pueblo West Cyclones (4A League 4)

Coach: Clint Buderus, fifth season

2021 record: 7-5, lost in second round of playoffs

Key players: Jacob Trader, RB, senior; Gavin Henderson, fullback/LB, senior; Titus White, WR,  senior; Bryce Goehring, WR/LB, senior; Gavin Lockett, QB, sophomore; Garret O’Brien, WR/DB, sophomore; Kaden Clough, OL, sophomore; Donovan Robinson, WR/DB, junior; Brock Keck, WR, sophomore

Key matchups: Sept. 9 at Fountain-Fort Carson; Oct. 7 vs. Palmer Ridge

Coach’s perspective: "You come to Pueblo West to play great teams and to play at the highest level. We want to play the best. We want to see where we're at as a team. We're gonna see what we're made of early and often. We’re up to the task.

“The excitement around the team gets me excited. The kids really are excited to play. Most days they bring it. They want to practice. They have fun and it's fun to be around when a group has that much fun practicing. It's great being a part of this team.”

South Colts head football coach Ryan Goddard to his defense during their scrimmage against Air Academy Aug. 19, 2022, at Dutch Clark Stadium. (Mike Sweeney, Special to The Pueblo Star Journal)
South Colts head football coach Ryan Goddard talks to his defense during their scrimmage against Air Academy Aug. 19, 2022, at Dutch Clark Stadium. (Mike Sweeney, Special to The Pueblo Star Journal)

South Colts (3A League 1)

Coach: Ryan Goddard, 13th year (20th at South)

2021 record: 8-3, lost in first round of playoffs

Key players: Brock Montoya, TE/DL, senior; Ryan Lane, LB/TE, junior; Mateo Esquivel, WR, senior; Ray J Aragon, WR, senior; Ryan Grisham, WR, senior; Nathan Martinez, WR/DB, senior

Key games: Sept. 2 at Discovery Canyon; Sept. 16 vs. Green Mountain

Coach’s perspective: “We had great attendance all summer. The kids were working hard. We changed some things up this year: We brought in some fresh faces and did some different things which I think that our kids really responded well to. I feel like we came into fall camp in pretty good shape and ready to roll. We’re stronger and I think that we got everything we wanted out of the summer – kids showing up, being accountable and being committed.”

Brandon Samora
Brandon Samora has been covering prep sports in Pueblo since the day he stopped competing in them. He is a 2019 graduate of East High School and student at Colorado State University Pueblo.
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