Season Preview: Cotopaxi Football

Six man football is an exciting sporting event, whether you have seen it before or not, it is a unique experience. The Cotopaxi Pirates are the local 6 man football team, and after last years season saw a first round exit to the Otis Bulldogs in the 2018 CHSAA Football Playoffs.

Last years team only graduated one player in Steven Tunstall, but there are some big shoes to fill in his stead. The fullback and lineman was more than that, taking a jack-of-all-trades personality for the team, gaining 570 yards, scoring 9 TD’s and grabbing 43 tackles for the Pirates.

In filling Tunstall’s shoes, a few names are coming to the top. The senior class is expected to be led by Frank Ogden and Tyler Sawyer. Ogden led the team in receiving last season, pulling in 26 passes for 555 yards (second in returning players statewide) and nine TD’s. Sawyer played a bigger role in the running game, with 555 yards and 12 TD’s through the year, adding another 123 yards through the air.

The Pirates will have a new face behind center looking to gett he ball to the weapons Cotopaxi will feature. Junior quarterback Peter Belt will not be returning for a second season behind center. He passed for 805 yards last season while battling some injuries which kept him out of games. The Pirates will look to possibly Colin Whipple to take over in the role of quarterback, and while chemistry will take time to develop, Whipple does have time playing with most other members of the team during other sports.

Defensively, the Pirates will look to a face who exploded onto the scene in every sport he played. Zack Van Esselstine led the Pirates as a junior last season with 131 tackles, 50 of which were solo, 3 sacks, 7 fumble recoveries and one forced fumble from his end position. He will be helped by fellow seniors Ogden and Sawyer, who are also in the top five tacklers from last years team.

The question for the Pirates comes to their improvement in terms of the teams they fell to last year. Six-man football is a top and bottom heavy classification in recent past, with the top 6 to 7 teams leading the way, then the rest down below. Last season, the Pirates fell just short of that top tier in two games. A loss to Mountain Valley in the game which decided the top team from the Southwest League and a loss in the first round of the playoffs to the talented Otis Bulldogs (who fell to Peetz 84-78 in a record breaking offensive game in the next round) were dampening to the goal of making that top tier, but if the lessons from those games are retained by the returning leaders, the end result could be a long term gain seen this season.

The Pirates get another shot at Mountain Valley, this year in Cotopaxi, on September 20th, and will travel to Prairie (another quarterfinal team from last years playoffs) to close out the season. Those two games will be the deciding factor for the Pirates, as another first round road trip to the plains would not favor the purple and gold.

Caleb’s Prediction: 7-2 and a loss in the quarterfinals of the playoffs.

Caleb Burggraaf

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