Vail Valley gridiron report: Huskies, Devils and Saints ready | VailDaily.com

Vail Valley gridiron report: Huskies, Devils and Saints ready

EVFB Block & Casias KA 09-25-09

Ahh, football.

There’s something very comforting about the word. We’re finally in two-a-days. Stuff John Ramunno, Tim Pierson and David Joyce have been scribbling on napkins all season is actually happening on a field. Here’s what each team needs to do for what we hope is a successful campaign for all.

And as a disclaimer, of course, no one is possibly looking ahead to Nov. 5 in Edwards when Eagle Valley is at Battle Mountain. Nope.

OK, it was a good season in 2009 by Battle Mountain standards, a very good year. The Huskies snapped a 19-game losing streak by ripping Highland and, finally, beating the Devils for the first time in 12 years.

Just as important, third-year coach David Joyce and company are establishing a foundation with systems and offseason work, which sadly is quite a novel concept for the Huskies, but a good thing however belatedly.

That all said, it’s important to remember for the sake of perspective that Battle Mountain still went all of 2-8 last year. The Huskies left at least two wins on the table in Summit County and Montezuma-Cortez.

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Key No. 1 is to learn how to win games, which is understandable given the dearth of success with this program dating back to 1994, its last playoff appearance. Teams like Palisade, Glenwood and Moffat are probably still out of Battle Mountain’s league, but the Huskies really should be able to play with teams like Delta, Rifle and Summit.

Think about it. How did you lose to Cortez, but beat Eagle Valley last year?

Key No. 2 would be defense. In Battle Mountain’s eight losses, the D gave up and average of 50 points per game. I like Battle Mountain’s offense and its skill players like Jake Engle, Reeve Sanders and Chris Libertini are good, but no one’s that good to overcome stats like this.

This is not on defensive coordinator Jeff Krumlauf. I’m in the booth with the guy and he’s doing everything he can. Players play the game, and it’s time for people to step up here.

Guys, you have to prepare every week like it’s Eagle Valley. Bring that effort every week and it could get interesting in Edwards.

Last year was a very un-Eagle Valley like season. I know that the program has down years, but it’s safe to say that everyone in Gypsum has a sour taste in their mouths after a 1-9 year.

Good. Use it as motivation.

Here’s why I think Eagle Valley has a better year in 2010. One, the Devils return most of the offensive and defensive lines. It starts here. It doesn’t matter if you have Joe Montana and Jim Brown in the backfield if opposing linebackers are there too. A bigger and more-experienced o-line will help cut down on the turnovers, a big problem last year.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Devils will miss Cody Gerard, but it was a pretty decent crew last year, especially with the number of short fields the unit faced because of turnovers.

Don’t be surprised if the Devils find a good featured back in their double-wing set and they start chewing up yards again. (I have my guess, but I ain’t telling.)

Another piece of good news is that the Devils don’t open up against Alabama and Ohio State in nonconference play, read Faith Christian and Olathe. A tough nonleague slate is admirable, but that was over the top. Coal Ridge, the opener, will be tough, and Summit is very compatible.

Most importantly, this about pride. From my experience of covering Battle Mountain football for 12 years and then both teams last season, Eagle Valley football simply does not go 1-9, and the Devils don’t lose to Battle Mountain. (As much as some of you in Gypsum think I’m Battle Mountain boy, my real reaction from last year’s game was pure shock that the Huskies actually won.)

This is going to be a bounce-back year in Gypsum.

Let’s cut through the you-know-what. Of course, we’re taking it one week at a time and never looking ahead. The Devils are focused on Coal Ridge, the Huskies on Summit.

Whatever. Everybody will be going to each other’s scrimmage, comparing scores and scouting each other’s games. It’s about Week 10, people.

No prediction, but an observation. The dynamic has changed here with Battle Mountain winning, 14-7, last year. This certainly gives the Huskies some much-needed confidence that they can beat Eagle Valley, something that was conspicuously absent in years past.

On the other hand, that win has been eating at the Devils since Oct. 30 of last year. I don’t think Battle Mountain quite understands what it did by winning this game, since with the exception of Eagle Valley coach John Ramunno, no one in this rivalry currently has experienced this happening.

Just something to remember.

I would never forget you guys. New year, new league and new faces for Tim Pierson’s crew.

It’s very simple for the Saints. Some kids have to grow up quickly. The young kids can’t be young anymore. You’re not just super freshman with great talent. The core of this team has to be sophomores who produce. That may not be fair, but this would fall under the category of a good life lesson. Life isn’t fair, and you’ve got to cut it nonetheless.

The new Central League is also pretty solid with Justice, Soroco, West Grand, North Park and Gilpin County. And the nonconference schedule is stacked with Dayspring Christian (state runner-up last year).

To paraphrase Rick Pitino, Larry Cavanaugh and Kieran Hurtt aren’t walking through that door. The sophs need to take mature quickly or this will be a rough ride.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.