Drake Arthur, the Boulder monster of the gridiron this past Season C football campaign, never wanted anything more than to just have fun with friends.
What he and his teammates at BHS ended up getting, however, was a treasure chest of memories from a season that was discombobulated and wonderful all at the same time.
The Panthers, like many teams in the spring, were driving on a road full of potholes. Every week was something different, and at every corner lurked another detour. But when Boulder played, it constructed win after win after win. That’s just not something the Panthers have been used to in recent years.
“It was all pretty weird,” Arthur said recently of the season’s ups and downs.
Weird and wild as it was, hopefully Arthur and his compatriots did something to change the culture of the program. But if the run to the Class 5A Season C state championship game is just that — a run in a particular season — it doesn’t make it any less special.
Yes, Boulder, you did that. You made a Class 5A football state championship game.
When Arthur replays the 2021 season in his head, the first playoff win pops up as that first real moment of satisfaction. A subsequent win against Denver East in the semifinals was a byproduct of momentum, particularly from the defense in a 6-3 slugfest.
While the championship football game in Pueblo didn’t materialize as BHS would have hoped, the Panthers will most certainly retain memories of the all-star sendoff, the bus ride to the CSU-Pueblo campus, and the butterflies that accompanied them to the field on May 15.
Now, that’s fun.
“To be honest, I didn’t think we’d ever be there but when we won that first playoff game, that was when I feel like I was the happiest, just like, oh, I never thought we’d win a playoff game and here we are,” Arthur said. “We got into to routine and we rode our defense the entire way. It was an amazing feeling. It was awesome to see all this amazing work we put in … just got to finally put some W’s in the column.”
Arthur was a beast for the Panthers, and for that he is recognized by BoCoPreps.com as the Season C football player of the year. Among his stats are 21 receptions on offense for 350 yards and three scores, 83 total tackles including 63 solo, four sacks, an interception and a caused fumble.
Beyond the numbers, he was a kid that would have had to have been dragged off the field to get a breather. Especially in his senior season, where the mantra was to keep it simple and just fly around to the football.
In other words, he and his teammates were unleashed. And Arthur had the time of his life.
The best of BoCoPreps.com’s Season C football teams:
Drake Arthur, Sr., Boulder — One of the emotional leaders of the Panthers, Arthur came off the basketball season and let his instincts carry him to his best season ever.
Titis Gebhardt, Sr. Justice — The Phoenix’ Swiss Army Knife played multiple skill positions in addition to returning kicks and punts, and he was rewarded with a spot at the 8-man all-state football game July 9 at Gilpin County High.
Elijah Graham, Sr. Boulder — With little experience to speak of as a football player, Graham’s brute strength and speed helped him attack opposing quarterbacks at a Reggie White rate, tallying 11 sacks.
Spencer Mickleberry, Jr., Centaurus — Mickleberry made a name for himself on both offensive and defensive line, but his ability to protect helped CHS to about 250 yards per game.
Coleman Teasdale, Jr., Centaurus — The Warriors were in the thick of every game they played; Teasdale was responsible for two-thirds of the team’s offensive yardage as the QB.
Anthony Valdez, So., Justice — The youngster made plays on offense, defense and special teams while helping Justice through a crazy, heavy-on-travel season.
Luke Werner, Sr. Boulder — In addition to being a player that bound BHS in many ways, Werner was a stable option for quarterback Alvin Rodriguez, notching 20 receptions.
Eddie Zygowicz, Sr., Centaurus — Another senior who let loose in his final prep season, Zygowicz notched five touchdowns in the Warriors’ six games.