OAK CREEK - Vail Christian football coach Tim Pierson put it tactfully. The Saints have had had some "un-fun" games against Soroco in the last two years.
Yes, losses of 34-20 and 41-7 would be decidedly un-fun.
Vail Christian had a lot of fun Friday night, defeating those Rams, 26-6, Friday night at Soroco's Homecoming in Oak Creek. That was the Saints' first win against Soroco and the squad is starting to put itself in contention in the revamped Central League with a 2-0 conference mark and a 5-0 record overall.
"Those four (seniors) believed and led the other guys," Pierson said. "That was pretty neat."
Said seniors would be Mack Cooper, Austin Ellsworth, Gunnar Hamina and Tyler Purse. And when the low-key Pierson says "neat," most people would be letting out a big Homer Simpson "whoo-hoo!"
The key to this one was defense. Soroco quarterback Nic Paxton, a senior, has given the Saints fits the last two years. He can hurt teams with his feet and his arm.
"We had to do something to make him uncomfortable," Pierson said. "We were trying to contain a great player."
The Saints liked their defensive match-ups on the line of scrimmage, but they still faked a bunch of blitzes to keep the Soroco offense off balance. Vail Christian also moved some players around. Ethan Ellsworth, usually the team's top linebacker, played defense end. Meanwhile, Branden Currey was splitting time between defensive back and the defensive line, depending on the look Soroco showed the Saints.
The results were impressive. The Saints tackled Paxton for a loss 14 times Friday night and forced him into a fumble and an interception. Cole Caynoski caused the fumble, which Austin Ellsworth recovered. Clayton Davis came down with the pick.
The wheels were turning on offense as well. Soroco went after Austin Ellsworth, now at quarterback, hard. Ellsworth, who normally produces fantasy-football numbers with his arm, handed off to running-back Mack Cooper and Michael Lange. (In an intersting statistic, Ellsworth had 16 touchdown passes in the Saints' first four games, and zero against the Rams.) The Saints' offensive line blew out enough holes and Cooper and Lange ran though them for a big win. Though both back ran hard all night, Cooper ended up with all four Saints' scores.
Vail Christian puts its undefeated mark against Rangely for Homecoming Friday night at 7 at Eagle Valley.
Steamboat Pilot report Joel Reichenberger contributed to this report.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.