The Denver Post has recognized three local football players.
All-State high school football teams were announced for 2011 and Montezuma-Cortez, Mancos and Dove Creek are represented.
Montezuma-Cortez High Schools Tam Phan was named to the 2A All-State offensive team as a kick returner. The speedy senior scored six touchdowns last season on kick returns and piled up more than 600 yards on kickoff returns.
I was actually pretty surprised. I didnt think I would make it. I was really shocked, Phan said about being named All-State. Its a great feeling. I just want to thank all my coaches and teammates for helping me.
Phan was also voted the Mountain League, Special Teams Player of the Year.
It had everything to do with him just wanting to get it done. Hes a workhorse and has been all year, M-CHS coach Casey Coulter said. I also give credit to Kent Russell, our special teams coach. He designed the returns and Tam just took full advantage of it. A lot of those runs, were just pure will. It was all on him. Everything hes about, is just work ethic. I couldnt be happier for him.
Phan played running back on offense for the Panthers and hopes to continue his football days in college.
Im definitely planning on playing college ball now, he said. Somewhere close to home with great education.
Phan has looked at possibly playing for Fort Lewis (Durango), Western State (Gunnison) and Colorado Mesa (Grand Junction).
Mancos defensive specialist Jake Driver made the 8-man All-State team. The Bluejays senior captain led the team in tackles (46) and sacks (six), and was their leading punter.
I got the call from coach (Kyle) Graff. I was like, Wow! Thats really cool. Wow! Thats a big honor, Driver said. That was pretty nice to get.
Although Driver was the defensive force for the Bluejays, he was voted to the offensive 8-man All-State team as an end.
Four years in our program. I got to watch him grow up as a player, as a person, he was our captain this year. Its well deserved, Mancos coach Kyle Graff said. To see how much better he got, was incredible. We were a little surprised he made it as an offensive player. But still, its good for our program, its good for him and Im really happy for him.
Driver did carry the ball four times for 104 yards at Plateau Valley on Oct. 1. He also totaled 115 yards receiving on the season with five catches to lead the Bluejays.
We were able to build a pretty good team out of what we had, Driver said. We had a senior quarterback that had never thrown a ball. He came out and did really well. We had a whole bunch of freshmen kids that really took the initiative and stepped up. For me to be a senior and be captain of this team, I wouldnt want any other team to be a captain of. To make All-State with this team, whod want anything more out of it?
Driver will attend the University of Colorado, Denver Campus, in the fall and plans to major in civil engineering.
Dove Creek senior Chance Johnson was named All-State honorable mention in 8-man football as a running back and linebacker. Johnson rushed for 936 yards last year and totaled 83 tackles for the Bulldogs, who won their first-round playoff game.
Reach Bobby Abplanalp at email@example.com.