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November 17, 2012
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Round 2: Devils vs. Conifer

Hey, folks it's Nov. 17 and Eagle Valley's still playing football. As former Yankees broadcaster Mel Allen used to say, "How about that?"

It's Round 2 of the state playoffs as the Metro West champion, Conifer, comes calling on the Devils at Hot Stuff Stadium at 2 p.m.

This feels right, people. Until Eagle Valley went off and beat Frederick last week - kids, these days - I actually had covered the Devils' last playoff win back in 2005 (Cherokee Trail, 31-14). For the first half of my career at the Vail Daily - I started in 1997 - this was the norm - football in Gypsum in November.

This has been a fun team to watch. My feel was about 5-5. (I can assure you all that after about two minutes of watching Battle Mountain-D'Evelyn in Zero Week, I made my call on our local issue.) This looks like the Eagle Valley of "old" - a big o-line, several backs with speed to burn and defense that makes other teams go, "Ouch." This crew put in the hours you need during the offseason, and the Devils are reaping the rewards.

The Devils have also shown some serious class this year with the "Alex Affair." This team and this community poured its heart out and got it stomped for its troubles. (I'm still in shock that someone would actually make up that garbage.) That could have done this team in, especially after the Palisade and Rifle losses. It would not have been hard to see these guys mailing it in at Frederick. Instead, the Devils showed a lot of heart and talent, and swatted Frederick aside. Good on everyone. Let's keep it rolling.

News and notes:

• Common opponents: The Lobos beat Glenwood Springs, 42-19, at Stubler during Zero Week. Eagle Valley also won at Glenwood, 42-28. Both teams got smacked by Rifle, but, well, the Bears are No. 1 for a reason. Eagle Valley pasted Arvada, 68-14, while the Lobos knocked off the Bulldogs, 42-23. Do note there, that the Devils knocked Arvada quarterback John Martinez out of the game early, and he was back in Week 10 to face Conifer.

• Conifer finished 5-1 atop the Metro West, defeating Lutheran, 34-8, in Week 5. If you're looking for a serious stretch of transitivity, Lutheran went on to lose to Steamboat Springs later in the season. Hard to judge much from that.

• Conifer likes to run, run and run some more. The Lobos feature two 1,000-yard plus backs in Matthew McClintock and A.J. Eleniewski. They've combined for 30 touchdowns. Quarterback Thomas Kim also appears to mobile with 397 yards of his own.

• The Lobos will pass enough to keep a defense honest. Kim is 60-for-121 for 697 yards.

• Defensively, Drake Weber appears to be a handful. He has 13 sacks and dumped Northridge's quarterback three times last week. Brandon Payer leads the Lobos with 111 tackles.

• OK, you all thought I was kidding about how the football postseason bracket can go boom in a hurry. Now do you believe me? Last week, No. 1 Rifle held serve, blasting Erie, 42-0. (Ryan Moeller ran for four touchdowns and had a pick-six.)

No. 2 Discovery Canyon is out after a 24-14 loss to Pueblo Central. I also heard that No. 3 Frederick lost to somebody. No. 4 The Classical Academy? Bye, bye. Delta smacked TCA, 21-0.

The first reason why this happened is that wild-card points are just not an accurate indicator of a team's strengths. The formula works nicely in keeping out teams who play a cupcake nonconference schedule. It does not work well in taking into account the strength of a conference.

And that would be point No. 2. The Western Slope can play football, not that anyone around here doesn't know that. The Devils are the fourth team out of the SEC of 3A football and they tattooed a Front Range league champion, Frederick, 33-8.

The other quarterfinal on Eagle Valley's side of the bracket is No. 15 Pueblo Central at No. 10 Silver Creek. (If you're wondering, Eagle Valley lost both coinflips and is on the road, so, "Go Silver Creek." Longmont's better than Pueblo, people.) On the left side of the bracket, Rifle will beat No. 8 Roosevelt, and Delta (No. 13) will have a shot at No. 5 Pueblo East, especially because the game's at Delta.

See you at the game.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.

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The VailDaily Updated Nov 17, 2012 12:03AM Published Nov 17, 2012 12:02AM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.