Devils are prepped and ready for winter season
This season will be no different.
After losing three major players on a team that advanced to the quarterfinals of the 3A State Tournament last season, Cain has his only two seniors, Craig Jagger and Justin Wood, leading the revamped Devils squad. Jagger will add his ball-handling and quickness, while Wood will try to convert the touch he had as quarterback in the fall into a long-ball threat this winter.
“We have the potential to have a little more offensive firepower this year,” said Cain, who’s starting his sixth season as head coach. “We have some good team quickness, but we’re not quite as fast as we were last year.”
Enter the new Devils. Guys like 6-foot-3-inch junior Cody Girard, junior Jerad Schlegel, junior Sean Bartlett and 6-foot-4-inch Dillon Barkman will be filling in the shoes of last year’s district and regional champions.
“I like the way these guys are starting to jell as a team,” Cain said.
In the 3A Western Slope League, defending champion Cedaredge will be strong this year. The Bruins return a pair of starters off a team that reached the state championship game last season. Aspen will also be strong, returning four of five starters off a guard-heavy squad that was the third Western Slope qualifier to the state tournament.
With three teams dropping out of the league, the Devils will play each conference team twice – once at home and once on the road. The championship, Cain said, might come down to who can adjust the best for that second go-around.
The Devils begin their season Dec. 13 at the Glenwood Springs Tournament, where they’ll play Ignacio and defending state-champion Faith Christian. Eagle Valley’s first home game is Jan. 10 against Gunnison. Game time is 8 p.m.
Girls basketball returns three starters
GYPSUM –With a new coach and three returning starters, the Eagle Valley girls basketball team has its eyes set on the 3A Western Slope League crown.
Now coached by former Buena Vista coach Mike Vidakovich, the Devils return seniors Brooke Baughfman, Sarah Brubeck and Laura Sandoval on a squad that finished middle-of-the-pack last season in the league. Sandoval, still resting injuries sustained in a car crash this fall, is scheduled to join the team in January for conference play. Senior Diane Mayne, who contributed off the bench last season, should be taking over the duty in the post.
“We’ve been at this for a couple weeks now,” said Vidakovich, who also coached at Glenwood Springs for 13 years. “We’re showing improvement every day in practice.”
The Devils will get a preseason test Saturday, when they host Moffat County, Rifle and Roaring Fork in an all-day scrimmage. It will give Vidakovich a chance to look at newcomers, like junior Trista Sandoval, and sophomores Kenzie Shreeve, Alex Amsden and Whitney Donohue.
“They’re going to get a lot of playing time, whether they like it or not,” Vidakovich joked.
Eagle Valley starts its season Dec. 13 at the Glenwood Springs Tournament against Greeley Central and Faith Christian.
The Devil’s home opener is scheduled for Jan. 10 against Gunnison. Game time is 6:30 p.m.
Nordic girls bring experience
GYPSUM –For the Eagle Valley Nordic team, the deal still stands. If you win a race, head coach Glenn Ewing will buy you a car, no matter the price.
The deal extends to anyone, except, of course, for Audrey Powell, a senior who led the Devils last season to a third-place finish in state. And if any of the others would happen to get close to the finish line with the lead, expect Ewing to do something drastic. Last season’s Colorado coach of the year has high hopes for Powell, along with juniors Katie Wick, Ellie Comerford and sophomore Jill Ewing, who all also went to state last season.
“We’ve been practicing for three days and Audrey’s looking graceful and in midseason form,” Ewing said.
Add three-time state track champion Kim Smith to the equation, and the Devils should contend all season, from their first meet Dec. 13 in Steamboat Springs to the state meet Feb. 21-22 they are hosting at Beaver Creek and Cordillera.
For the guys, it will be more rebuilding, evidenced by a sophomore captain in Dan Lewis.
“Dan’s the only kid on the team that really thinks that Nordic is their sport,” Ewing said. “Most of the others are just getting in shape for other sports.”
Sophomores James Ewing, Alex Gamble, Brad Gamble, junior Nathan Hoza and senior newcomer Everett Minnett join Lewis in leading the Devils varsity.
Wrestlers start season Thursday
GYPSUM –After sending seven wrestlers to the 3A State Wrestling Tournament last season, new head coach Jeff Lueders knows he has the talent.
Lueders, who assisted last year, is taking over a program that should fill every weight class this season and sport quite a few standouts.
“They’re working hard now,” Lueders said. “We’ve been going this week at 9 a.m., lifting weights and getting quite a bit of wrestling in.”
Guys like Tommy Barela (103 pounds), Jeff Bair (215), John Saldana (heavyweight), Phil Rivera (160), Tim Rietz (145) and D.J. Jaramillo (112) all saw a lot of mat time last season and did well in the postseason.
Add in talented freshmen Chris Harvey (140) and Kylan Kottenstette (125) and Lueders sees his team vying for another hefty number of state-bound athletes.
Thursday, the Devils grapplers will travel to Basalt before a weekend stint at Steamboat Springs. Eagle Valley hosts Rifle Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. in its home opener.
“We owe them one from last year,” Lueders said. “They pretty much took everything from us at our home tournament.”
The Devils host a 17-team invitational Jan. 11. The first big tournament, however, occurs Dec. 20-21 at the Warrior Classic at Grand Junction Central.
“We’ll find out where we’re at there. It’s virtually an early-season state tournament,” Lueders added.
Ryan Slabaugh is a sports writer for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555 ext. 608 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.