Vail Christian, Battle Mountain No. 1, and why it might not matter
Yes, I hate the RPI, too, but ...
We’re No. 1. We’re No. 1.
Yep, we’ve got two teams atop the rating-percentage index — Vail Christian football and Battle Mountain soccer.
Given how RPI has generally hosed our teams — the closer to Interstate 25, the higher your RPI — there’s some excitement.
I get that RPI doesn’t do 4A Slope teams any favors because everyone plays everyone twice in league play and that stamps down a team’s strength of schedule (aka opponents’ winning percentage). I sympathize completely with the local 2A squads who play bigger schools in nonconference play — there are no other 2A squads outside of Denver or the San Juan Mountains — and don’t get credit in the RPI formula for it.
It stinks. It’s wrong. CHSAA doesn’ t care, a nice way of putting it. So strut a little bit this week, Huskies and Saints. But don’t let it get to your head.
Since I’ve been around the Vail Christian camp a little more of late — it’s just how the schedule worked — we have recited former Saints football coach Bob Isbell a lot in the last week or so, “Rankings don’t score you points.”
I think it means more for Battle Mountain soccer just on sample size. I’m doing this column before Tuesday night’s Huskies-Steamboat Springs soccer game, during which the black and gold will pass the halfway point of the regular season.
Not only is 50 percent a bigger portion of the regular season than, say, Vail Christian football (3-0, 33 percent), but Huskies soccer has impressed with its nonconference schedule.
Beating Montrose, Durango and THE Classical Academy (are the Titans Ohio State?) is impressive. Historically that trio of opponents are good teams, ones which make the playoffs, squads that should win 10 games each, producing juicy winning percentages of .667 to appease RPI.
But before we break out the party hats, I’m really hoping I’m not jinxing Battle Mountain soccer by typing this before a Steamboat Springs game. First off, Huskies coach David Cope is a superstitious guy and will blame me if his team lost Tuesday night.
There’s also the matter of Thursday night at Glenwood Springs. Last year the Huskies were rolling along, only to draw at Stubler Memorial Field against the Demons.
Yes, Stubler is narrow, barely grassy and a dreadful place to play soccer, but if you’re a team with aspirations to be No. 1 come bracket time, this is no time to stumble.
What’s more to stay in the top four in RPI — a standing which comes with three playoff games at home were Battle Mountain to advance, a subject for another column — I don’t think the Huskies can afford a misstep within league the rest of the way.
Are Steamboat Springs, Glenwood Springs and Eagle Valley long-time rivals? Yes. Would it make any Western Slope team’s season to beat Battle Mountain? Yes. Does the RPI care? Not in the slightest.
So even though it is pretty exciting for the Huskies to be No. 1 in the RPI, and it might be commensurate with the team’s ability, it’s still back to one game at a time. Every single time they take the field, the Huskies have to bring their best.
You guys want to be in the state-champion conversation? Play like it.
Is Vail Christian off to a great start? You bet. Was beating Rangely last week impressive and a distinct improvement on last season? Yes.
Are the Saints the No. 1 team in 8-man football in the state of Colorado? No.
I am not trying to be a wet blanket. It’s just reality. If this hacks off the Vail Christian football team, that’s fine. Use it as motivation and make me eat my words.
I don’t put much stock in numbers that have the Saints 11 spots ahead of West Grand. The Mustangs are the best in the 8-man Slope until someone proves otherwise. (I also have a hard time with Vail Christian being ranked ahead of Eastern Plains teams like Dayspring Christian Academy, Sedgewick County, and Haxtun, but that’s not important right now.)
In a related development, Vail Christian is at West Grand this week. The Saints have the opportunity to change the narrative here, certainly within the league. The rest of the state is going to have to wait until the postseason, which I’d bet the Saints make.
Want to be in the state discussion? Start with winning your league and start with West Grand.
The bottom line is that it’s nice to be No. 1 in September, but the goal is to be No. 1 in November.