Vail Christian takes care of Rangely … twice
Saints have nice Homecoming
GYPSUM — OK, first the serious news.
Quinn Mitchell and Kiana Brausch were named the Vail Christian Homecoming king and queen on Friday night at John Ramunno Field in Gypsum.
By the way, in the football game, Vail Christian recorded an impressive 34-22 win over Rangely.
Yes, the Saints ended up scoring a lot of points, but the story of the game was the trenches. Vail Christian, at first sight, the smaller team, won the battle. Yes, the Saints were faster, but, as the game wore on, they were beating the Panthers physically on both sides on the line.
Winning the trenches led to a great Vail Christian defensive effort. Yes, the Saints made the playoffs last year, but the D needed work. Blue Crush got torched in a 46-22 loss at Rangely at this time last year. During 10 games, the Saints gave up 38 points per game.
This is a different unit. Vail Christian dialed up a bunch of blitzes, putting Rangely in long-conversion situations. And, eventually, the Saints just wore down the bigger Panthers.
So the collective game ball goes to John Pavelich, Micah Sharpe, Slater O’Brien and Eddie Palacio, who are the bigs on both sides of the ball.
The Saints took the early lead behind an 11-play, 68-yard drive. The Saints mixed it up with Chris Cappel, Sharpe, Simon Nowicki and Jamison Lee on the ground.
Vail Christian got the Panthers off balance on a third-and-1 with a 13-yard pass from Lee to Nowicki for the conversion. Lee went to the air to finish the drive with an 18-yard strike to Andrew Stojkovich for a 6-0 lead.
For a good portion of the first 24 minutes, the Blue Crush defense made the big plays to keep the Panthers at bay. Nowicki ended Rangely’s first drive with a sack.
Later in the half, Rangely quarterback Anthony Lujan became part of a Nowicki sandwich — both Simon and Vinny — for another sack. (The Nowickis met at the quarterback again during the second half.) Sharpe also dumped Lujan in the second quarter.
Rangely finally converted two big plays — a 40-yard pass from Lujan to Ryan Richens for 40 yards and a 20-yard scamper from Zane Varner — to find the end zone. The Saints responded with a bunch of Nowicki, Simon, that is. He rolled 16 yards on a beautiful counter call for a 14-8 halftime lead.
Rangely started to wear down and the Saints started the second half with their secret weapon. Lee hit Hayden Sticksel, who hasn’t played football since middle school, for 75 yards. That route enabled Sticksel to flash his jets as he streaked down the eastern sideline untouched.
And Vail Christian teacher Pat Phelan declared it a game when Lee rumbled 32 yards for a 34-8 lead, and who are we to argue with him?
The Saints moved to 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the Slope. Next up is a trip to West Grand.
Saints volleyball wins
EDWARDS — Under the category of “irony can be very iconic,” Vail Christian volleyball won its match against Rangely on Friday afternoon at the Wheeler Center in Edwards during the one set the Saints lost to the Panthers.
Vail Christian played itself out the first set with errors, trailing by as much as 17-5, but the Saints showed a lot of grit with a comeback, finally losing the set, 25-21
“They knew they had to work for it,” Saints coach Adina Petersmeyer said. “(Rangely) came in with a tough offense. We had to play (the ball) one more time than them. That’s how we were able to run it around.”
The result, though, was a 21-25, 25-15, 25-19, 25-22 Homecoming win over Rangely and the Saints’ second league win of the week.
And, then, of course, everyone dashed down U.S. Highway 6 and/or Interstate 70 to Gypsum for the football game.
Combined with a five-set, marathon win over archrival Soroco on Tuesday, it’s been a good week for the Saints (2-4 overall and 2-2 in the Western Slope) who are figuring it out on the fly.
“It’s been so much fun,” senior setter Abby Kuhns said. “We’re taking what we do in practice into games. It’s fun being able to lead, trying to help the younger kids. We’re improving so much.”
Sure, there were a few hiccups along the way — the Saints trailed in Game 3, 4-0, and nearly blew a 10-0 lead — excellent serving by sophomore Mia Ladd to get Vail Christian that lead — in the fourth and final stanza. Vail Christian is still searching for consistency.
But after 0-19 in 2017, 8-15 last fall, the Saints are headed in the right direction.
Junior Kendelle Smith was one of the many heroines on Friday. She’s looking more and more like an Ashlynn Gruber, great in track, serious hops on the court and a smashing spike.
As the match wore on, Sydney Ellsworth, Mari Engleby, and Grace McCurdy, among others, all had their moments.
And, as an added bonus, McCurdy got a date to tonight’s dance in a proposal in front of the locker room after the match.
The Saints continue league play next week with Caprock Academy and Hayden.