Battle for slope hinges on holding the ball
Vail, CO Colorado
GYPSUM ” It’s a tall task, but Eagle Valley and Glenwood football may want to slow down the offense just a bit Friday.
When the high-scoring teams meet at Hot Stuff Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff, there may be a few 12-second drives, although coaches are probably hoping for one or two 12-minute drives.
“We feel (Eagle Valley) executes so well on offense and tends to control the ball, so we’ll try and put a focus on controlling the ball offensively,” Glenwood coach Rocky Whitworth. “We’ll try to keep their offense off the field as much as possible.”
Whitworth’s No. 1-ranked Demons come in with a perfect 6-0 record and a potent offense that has racked up about 40 points a game.
“All the way across the board, our kids will have to be sound on defense,” said Eagle Valley coach John Ramunno. “It’s going to be really exciting for our guys to take on a team like Glenwood on our home field. They have a high-powered offense and that’s going to be a great challenge for our kids.”
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For both teams, there are Western Slope League title implications on the line. Glenwood, at 4-0 in league, knocked off Rifle two weeks ago and Palisade, who was at the time ranked No. 2, last week. Eagle Valley, at 3-1 (and 4-1 overall), is in a solid position, with three tough games remaining after this week.
“They are leading the league right now. If you want to be a league championships team, you have to beat one,” Ramunno said. “For us, this is big. We’ve had a pretty fun season up to this point and our kids have improved from week to week. We’re really looking forward to playing Glenwood ” it’s always a good game with them.”
Glenwood has enjoyed one of its most successful seasons since it reinitiated its varsity program 10 years ago.
“It’s been really uncharted territory every week,” Whitworth said. “We’re trying to maintain our composure as much as possible. We talk as a team of trying to take it one step at a time and keep distractions out of the way so we can execute and improve.”
One distraction the Demons have ignored is the No. 1 spot in both the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News.
“There hasn’t even been a word mentioned in a staff meeting or players meeting,” Whitworth said.
For as much as both teams have produced on offense, the Devils and Demons have been quite stingy on the other side of the ball.
Eagle Valley hopes to put forth a solid and do what no team has been able to do thus far ” stop Glenwood quarterback Dakota Stonehouse, his receivers, as well as a solid running game.
“We need to have good pressure up the middle with our defensive lineman,” Ramunno said. “The quicker we can get up there, and not let (Stonehouse) set his feet, the better. And our defensive ends need to contain him. When he slips out there, he can be a dangerous runner or thrower.”
Glenwood will look to tame Ramunno’s multiple-threat double wing offense that has seen several 400-plus-yard games on the ground and tons of 100- and 200-yard individual performances from Nick Whitehead, and some 100-yard performances from Pena Woolsey and Kevin Mansfield.
“We just don’t know if we can stop them,” Whitworth said. “And their play-action and screen game is really good, too.”
While the Devils may hold a size advantage on the line, the Demons play very few kids both ways.
“We made commitment to try and split kids up two years ago because what we do on offense takes a lot of execution time,” Whitworth said.
“I think we’ve got some pretty good depth, too,” Ramunno said.
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.