GYPSUM - Eagle Valley black and red turned into Devils black and orange Friday night.
As the season has developed, the football team unofficially adopted Alex, a 10-year-old, who was battling leukemia. Alex (whose last name has not being disclosed, according to the wishes of his family) died Thursday morning, and the Devils and their fans honored him during their game against Palisade Friday at Hot Stuff Stadium.
And while the result wasn't what the Devils wanted - the No. 10 Bulldogs defeated No. 5 Eagle Valley, 35-7 - their effort and the spirit in the community in Gypsum would have made young Alex proud.
Just as pink is the color for breast-cancer awareness, orange is the counterpart for leukemia. The Devils wore orange socks and had "A" stickers in the same color on their helmets.
The fans were in the spirit, too, garbed in everything from Broncos' orange to hunting gear. At the half, the cheerleaders did their routine in orange suits, while the dance team used their pom-poms to spell out "Alex" at the end of their routine. That was followed by the release of a bunch of orange balloons into the air.
Palisade struck first with an 80-yard drive, capped by a 30-yard pass from Bulldogs quarterback Luke McLean to Caden Woods. Eagle Valley did not back down. The Devils played smash-mouth football with Palisade. Sure, Devils quarterback Jordon Hudspeth hit Ayren Hart for a nice 18-yard pass.
But the Devils ran it the rest of the way. Hudspeth converted a key fourth-and-1 on the Bulldogs' 30. Cole Nielsen capped it with one of his patented "never-go-down" runs for 15 yards.
The Devils defense did its part in the second quarter with a magnificent interception by Sam Boyd. The unit also produced a quick three-and-out.
But it late in the half, Palisade turned things in its favor for good. Woods struck with a 24-yard carry for a touchdown. After an Eagle Valley interception, the Bulldogs capitalized with a quick drive, finished by a 16-yard strike from McLean to Spencer Jackson for another score and a 21-7 lead at halftime.
Eagle Valley was able to move the ball against the Bulldogs, but was not able to convert that into points. In the third quarter, the Devils got down to the Palisade 11. Eagle Valley had a scoring opportunity on fourth down, but dropped a potential scoring catch.
Palisade pretty much closed the door with another McLean-Jackson combination, this time for 26 yards early in the fourth quarter.
It was also Senior Night in Gypsum. Depending on how the Rifle game goes and the uncertain nature of CHSAA seeding, the Devils may be back at Hot Stuff. Nonetheless, Jesus Garcia, Nielsen, Boyd, Zeke Sandoval, Hudspeth, Jay Dostal, Thomas Mills, Hart, Rick Ramunno, Tanner Harris, Roberto Cortez, Joey Sanchez, Shawn Messerich, Andy Armstrong, Ty LaFramboise, Juan Calvo, and Andrew Vigil, as well a team managers Ella Guzik and Natalie Hartley took their senior bows before the game.
Palisade 7 14 0 14 - 35
Devils 7 0 0 0 - 0
P - Luke McLean to Caden Woods, 30 pass, KG, 5:15
E - Cole Nielsen, 15 run, KG, 1:29
P - Woods, 24 run, KG, 0:50
P - McLean to Spencer Jackson, 16 pass, KG,, 0:24
P - McLean to Jackson, 26 pass, KG, 10:27
P - Woods, 1 run, 3:28