Is it early? High school teams hit training camp (column) | VailDaily.com

Is it early? High school teams hit training camp (column)

Chris Freud

It's not just that the summer has gone by quickly, but not this quickly.

It is early for preps — our friends at CHSAA moved things up a week, so Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley, Vail Christian and Vail Mountain are underway.

Golf and softball start within days and we're 15 days from the first football game of the season — Battle Mountain vs. Middle Park on Aug. 24.

Your news and notes as we hit camp:

Football

• In ye olden days, Battle Mountain vs. Middle Park would be a Zero Week game. CHSAA added a week to the football season to give everyone a bye. Ergo, Battle Mountain at Eagle Valley is being played in Week 11, Nov. 2, if anyone's interested.

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• The reshaping of the 3A Slope continues, as Rifle moves down to 2A (huzzah), while Steamboat Springs moves back up, also good news for both the Devils and Huskies. Palisade is the favorite in the league because, well, the Bulldogs seem head and shoulders better than anyone else (Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley, Glenwood Springs, Steamboat and Summit County.)

• And, yes, if Glenwood's new coach looks and sounds familiar, then he is. Welcome back, Pat Engle.

• Eagle Valley's opener is a nonconference game at Rifle — still sounds strange. The Devils were rather courageous in nonconference scheduling in the last two-year cycle with an eye toward the rating-percentage index (RPI). This year's schedule is toned down, thank you very much.

Hopefully, we've got a bit more balance this season with tough nonleague tilts against the aforementioned Bears and Evergreen (Sept. 21) with more manageable tests against Alameda, Northridge and Niwot.

The Devils should get back into the win column and we will never speak of 2017 ever again.

• With Jim Schuppler in his second year, the Huskies could get off to fast start. After a 5-5 season, there is optimism in Edwards. We will make no judgment, however, on the status of Huskies football until it hits the conference slate.

Yes, Battle Mountain won some games last year, a good start. That's all it was. Players and parents may be grumpy about that. Too bad. Shoop and I are probably on the page, and we have the only two votes that count. (Actually, Shoop really is the only one with a vote.)

• Vail Christian is back in 8-man football, which means familiar faces such as West Grand, Soroco, Rangely and so on. West Grand and Soroco met in the state semis last season, so they're the teams to beat.

In the meantime, 8-man remains an awesome format. Jet sweeps, run-pass options, the wildcat are all fancy and trendy college plays. They're also just plays in 8-man. Love it.

Soccer

• Battle Mountain soccer doesn't rebuild, it reloads. The Huskies lost their longtime goalie, Alan Villegas, their top scorer, Juan Macias, and a lot in between. This will be a test of the Huskies' system — bringing in three-year JV players to step right up into varsity.

Battle Mountain may take some lumps early with a tough road trip through Montrose and Durango to start the season, but should be in the race by the time October rolls around.

• Down in Gypsum, it's time to find some goal scorers. Our fun stat from last year was that the Devils scored 10 goals against teams not named Palisade. Under first-year coach (on the boys' side), Maggie Sherman should help on that count.

• Is Vail Mountain a sleeper team? The Gore Rangers got into the postseason (orange) and were an awfully young team. Another tell is that VMS was 1-7-1 games decided by one goal or fewer last fall. Keep an eye out.

Volleyball

• First off, we're rooting for Vail Christian. Yeah, I said it. The Saints went 0-2017 last year, and I root for teams that have tough stretches like that. With everyone who went through last year coming back, Vail Christian will be an improved squad in 2018.

• And that's where my predictions end on volleyball. Will Eagle Valley be able to reload after losing a ton to graduation? Does Battle Mountain find consistency?

• Perhaps, VMS? Class 2A volleyball has dropped districts, which could help the Gore Rangers as they have been in the logjam known as District 5 with Meeker, Paonia and Rangely.

Class 2A is going to straight RPI qualifying for regionals, which means if District 5 remains Murderer's Row, the district will just qualify more teams for the postseason.

Cross-country

Yes, we outlined Battle Mountain recently. Let's take a moment to talk Eagle Valley's Joslin Blair. She won three medals, including the really shiny one in the 1,600 meters, at the state track meet last spring.

Not that her cross-country numbers weren't trending in the right direction — 14th at state in 2016 and seventh in 2017 — but she has to enter this season knowing she can run with anyone.

Look out.