Letter: Ain’t it sad to be a Devil following forfeit of last football game of season
Editor’s note: Eagle Valley football, through the school’s athletic director and assistant principal Tamara Payne, announced on Monday, Oct. 30, that it would have to forfeit its final game against Glenwood Springs on Friday, Nov 3, because of safety concerns. The Devils did not have a sufficient number of healthy players.
“Ain’t it great to be a Devil!”
That’s what we used to say after we would win a game. Coach Ramunno would break us down. He’d scream it as loud as his gravely voice could. It was extra special doing it at Battle Mountain and Cedaredge.
I played for Eagle Valley for two years. I moved to Gypsum during my sophomore year and could only play my final two years. Eagle Valley had just gone deep into the playoffs, and the school I came from in Illinois was awful. In my two years there, we won one game, tied two and lost the rest. It sucked. The idea of being able to compete in games made the move across the country worth leaving.
When my mom told me Eagle Valley was forfeiting their last game, I was driving home past Disneyland. My truck wasn’t the happiest place on earth. I got a rush of anger I haven’t felt since I last played ball. I can handle Eagle Valley teams being bad from time to time but not quitting. Quitting is a character flaw, and it gets easier over time; 0-9 isn’t fun, but you owe it to your opponent and you owe it to yourself to fight like hell and stave off 0-10 until the last second on the scoreboard.
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Twenty years ago, almost to the day, we lost a home playoff game to Holyoke. I knew on the second play of the game we were outmatched. They were bigger, stronger and faster, and they knew it. In the fourth quarter, when they were smokin’ us, their center said right before he snapped the ball ,“These guys haven’t given up.” We never gave up. We fought, and we lost bad. I shook their hands sobbing. I walked out of Hot Stuff Stadium sobbing. I was embarrassed because the teams before us were good and we didn’t deliver. When you put that uniform on, you represent every Devil that’s put it on.
We are not being represented. I don’t know who this new coach is, and I don’t care to. I know John Ramunno wouldn’t have quit on us. You don’t go through two-a-days in August to quit in November. And if by some chance he did, he knew his team would fight him on it.
I played my last game with a sprained elbow and a blood clot the size of a baseball on my left shin. There was no chance I was not playing. It hurt all game, but I survived. Not playing because kids might get hurt is a joke and a total cop out. I know what it’s like to lose game after game, and I sure as hell wouldn’t have let someone take away my last opportunity to kill that feeling. I also wouldn’t rob my kids of a character-growth opportunity. Hope ended this weekend and a future regret began. The “what if” will be tough down the road.
Eagle Valley is now that school. Until these freshmen are gone, every coach on Eagle Valley week will remind their players this is a team that quit and, if fought hard enough, will quit again. If you would have told me walking off that field 20 years later that this school would quit on that same field, I wouldn’t have believed you; I would have hit you.
Eagle Valley may not have always won but we never quit.
Jacob Reitz, aka Porkchop
Class of ’98