If there was one staple of this year’s Cody High School football team, it was consistent depth and talent at nearly every position. As such, the team was recognized by the Wyoming Coaches Association this week with a whopping seven all-state and nine 3A West all-conference honors.
“It’s always nice to get those kids recognized for their efforts,” coach Matt McFadden said. “For every award we get it’s a team award. Those individual accolades are impossible without the other guys on the team.”
Cody had more all-state players than all but one other team in 3A football.
“It speaks profoundly to how our team overall was pretty good,” Keith Conner said.
Of the seven players who were all-state, five of them seniors. Making up the elder statesmen are Conner, Tristan Blatt, Matt Sandoval, Duncan Radakovich and Jeff Williams. For Blatt, Conner and Williams, it was their second consecutive year garnering all-state recognition.
Blatt said it was a bond built since their first year of playing football together in fourth grade.
“We definitely thought we could do something special someday if we worked hard enough,” Blatt said.
Conner came to Cody during his freshman year but he said the transformation that occurred during that four-year time span was evident.
“Long enough to see them grow from wee, little, tall guys, to the big, tough monsters that they are,” Conner said.
Blatt finished the season with 38 tackles and a 3A second-best six interceptions at defensive back. He said he is more likely to play college baseball than football, but would like it if the tables turned.
“If I had the choice I’d definitely go football,” he said.
Conner got all-state for his work on the defensive line, also making the Casper-Star Tribune Super 25 (top 25 player at any level for all positions) for the second time as well. He had 46 tackles and one fumble recovery for a touchdown this year. That recovery came in the season opener against Riverton when he brought the ball back 50 yards to close out a 28-6 win.
After graduating this spring, Conner plans to enlist in the Air Force as a member of the special forces combat control team. He said football was the perfect training for military service.
“(McFadden) is crazy about weight lifting and just being an athlete,” Conner said, in the midst of a five-mile march with a 40 pound bag on his back as he gave the phone interview. “Part of being in the military is being the best athlete you can be.”
Williams earned all-state for his work anchoring the offensive line, the only Cody player to get all-state honors on the offensive side of the ball.
“The majority of players played both ways on offense and defense,” McFadden said. “They could have easily been all-state on offense too.”
Williams said he hopes to play in the Shrine Bowl, a game made up by Wyoming’s top players each spring. But for now he is more focused on basking in the glory of one of Wyoming’s highest football awards, that three of his fellow linemen also received.
“It’s great, especially after a senior season,” Williams said. “It’s humbling, it’s great to get the recognition from other teams.”
Radakovich joined Conner on the defensive line with an all-state performance in only his second year of playing football.
“It feels really good knowing my team trusted me knowing my position,” Radakovich said.
He finished the year with a team-best four sacks and 62 tackles as well.
“(He) continued to work hard and put himself in a position where he’s probably going to be playing football next year now,” McFadden said.
Radakovich said he is considering a few different options for college football at the moment.
Sandoval got his first all-conference and all-state awards this season as well for his work at defensive back. He made 50 tackles and three interceptions during the season.
“It feels good, especially because it’s my senior year,” Sandoval said. “After I missed the first two games I knew I had to work harder to achieve.”
Juniors Keaton Stone and Nic Talich earned all-state at linebacker.
Stone led the team with 65 tackles despite not even starting at the beginning of the season. He had important fumble recoveries in games against Worland and Jackson this year.
“Just worked himself into a role where he wasn’t going to be coming off the field,” McFadden said. “Very valuable for us.”
Talich had 56 tackles and two sacks on the year, in addition to being a workhorse on offense.
All seven of the all-state players also received all-conference honors.
Hunter Hays got his second consecutive all-conference for his work at quarterback. The second-year starter threw for 874 yards while completing 66 passes.
Senior Gus Mahieu got his first ever all-conference on the offensive line.