Eagle Valley football looking to rep the brand
Devils open with Rifle
It goes with just about every post on Eagle Valley football’s Facebook feed.
“That’s about taking pride in your school and community,” first-year Eagle Valley head coach Gabe Brown said. “It’s representing your school in a positive light, and on the field, it’s playing physical, hard-nosed football.”
As Eagle Valley opens the season by hosting Rifle at John Ramunno Field in Gypsum on Friday night at 7, the Devils find themselves in a different situation.
Brown is the team’s third coach in four years, a stange development for a team with one head coach for 30-plus years. It’s also been a struggle on the field. The Devils are 6-24 during the last three seasons, which is stunningly unlike Eagle Valley’s history.
Brown, who served as the team’s defensive coordinator last year and the 2019 Devils are determined to reverse that trend.
“They’ve put in a lot of work during the offseason,” Brown said. “They’ve made the transition (for me) seamless. They have a work ethic and are doing what I need them to do. They’ve responded well.”
Let’s get physical
The plan, in some ways, is pretty simple. The coach repeated the words “physical” and “physicality” often in talking about the squad. That makes sense in the 3A Slope where power football, certainly with Palisade and Glenwood Springs, the circuit’s best teams, is the order of the day.
Defensively, the Devils are going with a 4-4 front intended to stuff the run. The defensive ends are Jacob Lafleur and Brian Garcia with David Solis and Jackson Stricker at tackle.
The linebackers are Lisandro Aguilar and Daniel Gallegos in the middle and Lucas Stephens and Branden Vigil.
“The premise of the defense is to stop the run first,” Brown said. “Hopefully, we force those good-running teams into passing situations.”
Keenan Collett and Anthony Vasquez are the corners and Tyler Morrison is the free safety.
With Brown coming from a defensive background, Jordon Hudspeth, former Devils quarterback and Eagle Valley Class of 2013, is the offensive coordinator.
Since Rifle football and other opponents can surf the Internet, the Devils aren’t disclosing their entire offensive scheme. Brown did mention that Eagle Valley is dishing the wishbone and moving to a pistol offense with some run-pass option.
Sophomore Will Geiman gets the call at quarterback. Collett, Aguilar, and Gallegos will be in the backfield at assorted points. Out wide, look for receivers Matt Lee and Vasquez as well as tight-end George Smirl.
Up front the big boys are Abraham and Brian Garcia, Stricker, Trace Hobbs and Connor Weeks.
Part of the reason that Eagle Valley’s struggled during the last three years was that in 2016 and 2017 the team over-scheduled with the rating-percentage index in mind. Kent Denver, Erie, Lutheran, Evergreen and Northridge five weeks in a row would have been a bit much for Alabama.
The team toned down the nonconference schedule last year, keeping Evergreen and Northridge, but substituting in Rifle, Alameda, and Niwot. Last year’s squad went from 0-10 to 3-7, which included a 24-13 win against Battle Mountain.
Playing Rifle, now a member of the 2A Slope, is good preparation for the season as the Bears are a familiar foe from their days in 3A. Rifle isn’t subtle, running out of the double wing, so familiar to Eagle Valley.
“We have to come out and match other teams physically,” Brown said. “Step one is meeting the physicality of Rifle or Glenwood or Palisade. If you don’t match them physically, it’s going to be a long night.”
No snow? No problem. Athletes from Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s Nordic ski racing program train on recreation paths all summer long.