Devils-Huskies rivalry football game postponed after most of Eagle Valley team goes into COVID-19 quarantine

With Saturday's big game off, Eagle Valley's AD says 'We're hoping we can work some magic scheduling'

Saturday's Eagle Valley at Battle Mountain football game is postponed after a COVID outbreak among the Eagle Valley community.
Daily file photo

Eagle County Schools announced on Monday that most of the Eagle Valley High School football team needed to quarantine due to COVID-19 and that the Devils would postpone the first two games of their season.

Thus, Saturday’s season opener, which is the annual donnybrook of Eagle Valley at Battle Mountain, is postponed. The Devils’ Week 2 contest, a home game against Summit County, is also pushed back.

“We’re hoping we can work some magic scheduling in to get those games in for the kids,” said Tom LaFramboise, Eagle Valley’s athletic director. “That’s my hope. As an athletic director, I want them to play as many games as they can, but the health situation comes first.”

Eagle Valley football had normal practice on Friday, according to LaFramboise. On Saturday, according to the team’s Facebook page, the team had an intrasquad scrimmage. Sunday, by Colorado High School Activities Association rules, no contact is allowed between coaches and players.

By Monday, it was apparent that the virus had made its presence felt.

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This is a kick in the pants to all those involved locally in the lengthy starting-and-stopping process to get football played in the fall. Originally, CHSAA delayed football until Season C in the spring, with football beginning March 4.

Gov. Jared Polis and CHSAA then broached the idea of restarting football, only to have the latter nix it. That disappointment led to a second round of negotiations which produced a seven-‘game schedule for teams opting to play in the fall. All three local squads — Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley and Vail Christian chose the fall option.

Battle Mountain football, though it is missing its Week 1 opponent, has been doing well — knock wood — with a healthy camp, according to athletic director Gentry Nixon, and the same is true at Vail Christian via Tim Pierson.

“The kids are going to be bummed; the whole thing stinks,” said LaFramboise, who has coached football at both Norwood and Eagle Valley. “My heart goes out them. They’re frustrated and mad, and I understand, but we have to keep people healthy.”

Vail Christian is still scheduled to play at Dove Creek on Saturday to open its season.

Meanwhile, Eagle Valley must go through COVID-19 protocol.

According to LaFramboise, those affected must quarantine at home for 14 days and be symptom-free before returning to campus. The quarantined individuals will attend school via the Internet and cannot participate in person in extracurricular activities — i.e., football.

When will they play?

While the health of everyone remains the top priority, there is the matter of Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain playing a football game.

The obvious solution to this conundrum is in the “6+1” scheduling format issued by CHSAA. Teams are scheduled to play six regular-season games plus either a playoff game by qualifying for the field of eight through rating-percentage index or play a seventh game against another non-postseason team.

The “plus-1” seems to be tailor-made the Devils and Huskies, except that with the season just beginning, every team in the state, including Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain, thinks they are going to the playoffs.

Thus, LaFramboise and Nixon have not yet hammered that option out. Both said they are committed to getting in the rivalry game, regardless of postseason scenarios.

What now for the Huskies?

Battle Mountain football finds itself with a bye week in Week 1, which is not the ideal scenario.

Nixon said that she will be sending out an email to CHSAA members looking for a game for the Huskies this week.

“I will put it to CHSAA actively to find another game,” Nixon said. “It’s Week 1. I want my kids to stay pumped. To my understanding, there are other teams who are in a similar situation as us. I’m sending a mass email out tomorrow for everyone from (Class) 2A to 5A.”

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