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Signing day notebook: Vista Ridge football sending 5 to next level
Links to the rest of The Gazette's signing day stories.
Les Johnson proud of Vista Ridge football program
Vista Ridge football coach Les Johnson sat inside the Commons at Vista Ridge High School and watched two of his seniors sign national letters of intent to play collegiate football.
Johnson said he could not be happier for seniors Brandon Cartagena (Northern Colorado) and Aaron Johnson (Eastern New Mexico). Joining them are Brayden Stewart, who plans to walk on at Eastern New Mexico, Pierre Copeland, a preferred walk-on at CSU, and Jacob Hawthorne, who is headed to Western State.
Stewart completed 135-of-276 passes for 1,935 yards and 18 touchdowns this year. Cartagena rushed for 1,582 yards and 19 touchdowns. Johnson finished his senior year with 48 receptions for 740 yards and 10 touchdowns. Copeland had 80 tackles, 55 solo. Hawthorne had 140 tackles, 72 solo.
“You know I am very proud of them,” Johnson said. “This is just the beginning. Last year we had about five kids sign to go to the next level and all of them are still playing. We are doing some good things here. Things are only going to get better for us.”
Doherty pair to continue playing together
Two members of the Doherty girls' soccer team will be headed to Western State in Gunnison to join the Mountaieers' soccer program that will be entering its second season.
Both of them like the challenge.
“I really liked the idea of a new program and building something for other girls to look forward to,” said Taylor Denny, at the Spartans' signing day ceremony Wednesday.
Joining her will be Madi Miller.
WSC struggled in its debut season, going 1-14, but that lone win came in the second-to-last game and signals hope. After starting the program too late to participate in a conference schedule, the Mountaineers will compete in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference next season.
Among their opponents will be Adams State, which signed Doherty teammate Ashley Furbush.
Wolves WR Aaron Johnson meets personal goal
Vista Ridge wide receiver Aaron Johnson could not help but flash a big smile as he signed his national letter of intent to play football at Eastern New Mexico.
“The decision was really kind of easy,” Johnson said. “I didn’t want my mom having to pay for my college a lot. That was one of my major goals coming into the season was to help my mom. It was just a really good decision.”
Travis Talley wants to give back
Liberty offensive lineman Travis Talley was quick to credit former coach Jaron Cohen after signing his national letter of intent to play Division II football at Fort Hays (Kan.).
He wants to have an impact on younger players by earning his physical education degree and becoming a football coach.
“I’m looking at studying physical education,” Talley said. “I want to play football and see where it takes me, but I want to be a coach in the long run. I can’t thank coach Cohen enough. I wouldn’t be here without him and he did a lot for me. I’m honored to have played for him.”
Talley chose Fort Hays because they gave him the best opportunity to play and he could see himself living there for the next four or five years.
“When it came down to it, I just wanted to play,” Talley said. “Fort Hays gave me a chance to play and I’m taking it. It’s a very good town that fits me well. I’ll fit in there.”
Oh, not that Northwestern
Jesse Lehman fielded the question and had many of his friends impressed, and perhaps jealous, at his future college destination.
Then, with one word, the Liberty senior soccer player clarified his next place to call home.
Lehman is headed for Northwestern College, not the well-known Northwestern University.
“People say, ‘Oh, that’s that big school in Illinois,’ ” Lehman said. “I tell them it’s a much smaller school and that it’s in Iowa. Then they say they’ve never heard of it.”
Northwestern College, located in tiny Orange City (population 6,000), pales in comparison to the Evanston, Ill.-based member of the Big Ten that boasts three times the number of undergraduates and postgraduates.
That’s OK with Lehman.
“I’ve lived in Colorado Springs my whole life, and I’m not used to a small town,” Lehman said. “I figure I’ll be busy enough with school and soccer that I’m not going to be sitting around bored out of my mind.”
Air Force adds another Martinez, Pine Creek graduate
As a wrestler at Pine Creek the past four seasons, Geordan Martinez, known to most as just “Geo,” has won two state titles, four Metro League crowns and has lost only two of 158 total matches.
Perhaps his biggest win came recently, but it didn’t add to his staggering totals.
Instead, it came in the form of an appointment to the Air Force Academy, where he’ll follow his brother, Gabe, a senior, as well as join former teammate Josh Martinez (no relation) as Pine Creek alumni on the wrestling team.
“It’s pretty special and definitely one of the biggest decisions I’ve made,” Martinez said. “I’m happy to join my brother and a couple of former teammates. I believe it’s the place for me. The way the coaching staff is set up and the whole military aspect, it should instill in me pretty good habits and work ethic.”