Before Vail Christian football fans embark on the three-and-a-half-hour road trip to Sargent near Monte Vista for Saturday’s 8-man, first-round playoff game, this is not the longest road trip in Saints’ history.
Not even close, really.
The last time the football Saints made the state playoffs, 10 years ago, they went to Holly. Check it out on a map. It’s precisely four miles from Kansas, about 100 miles east of Pueblo on Highway 50. That’s a road trip, people.
But really, who cares where you’re playing as long as you’re still playing in November?
“This is a playoff game,” said coach Tim Pierson, who was an assistant coach on that 2003 team that got a glimpse of the Sunflower State. “This is going to be fun.”
And, since we’re harkening back to 2003, then-football coach Bob Isbell decreed them to be the playons, not the playoffs, Tim.
The Farmers are No. 7 in the bracket, while the Saints are No. 10, so this should be a good one. Both teams are fond of running the football and using their speed to make things happen. Sargent must get major props for its nonconference schedule. In its four games outside of the Mountain League, it played Fowler, Merino, Dove Creek and Dayspring Christian, going 2-2. All four of those teams, a who’s who of 8-man football, are playing in this weekend’s first round. The Farmers won the league with a 12-8 victory over Sanford, also a playoff team.
The Farmers advanced through crossovers with a 66-0 stomping of Plateau Valley. The Saints also pasted the Cowboys, 52-0.
Sargent has a dual-threat quarterback in Nate Ramirez who ran for 1,298 yards and threw for 844 more. Junior Bryce Martinez averaged 6.5 yards per carry as the squad’s main running back.
That said, Saints quarterback Branden Currey and running backs Ethan Ellsworth and Cole Caynoski aren’t exactly chopped liver. Pierson said that Caynoski, who has been hobbled by injury of late, is ready to go on Saturday.
What could be an interesting match up is Sargent’s high scoring offense — 37.8 points per game — versus Vail Christian’s stingy defense, which has allowed 52 points all season.
“They’ve played maybe the toughest schedule in the state,” Pierson said. “This is going to be a good test to see how good we can be.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 and firstname.lastname@example.org.