Devils blast Gunnison; Rams on the horizon
Bring on Roaring Fork.
This game has likely been circled on Devils football coach John Ramunno’s calendar for months now. But Eagle Valley first had to take care of business.
The Devils did and so six days from now, Roaring Fork and Eagle Valley will meet at Hot Stuff Stadium in a battle for the 2A Western Slope title.
“Like last year, it went down to the wire with Roaring Fork and here we are again,” the coach said. “The league championship’s going to be decided right here. The great thing about it is we’re going to play it right here on our home field.”
The Devils will certainly have some momentum going into the Roaring Fork tussle, having thumped Gunnison 55-15 Friday night to move to 7-0.
Eagle Valley’s offense was the model of efficiency, scoring on its first six possessions. At the half, the Devils had amassed 230 yards on the ground in just 15 carries.
Craig Jagger led the way with six carries for 125 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. J.J. Alvis and Eric Smith combined for another 109 yards. And quarterback Justin Wood was his usual unflappable self with 92 yards in the air and another 78 on the ground.
“Our offense is exciting,” Ramunno said. “We have so many kids that play so hard. You’ve got Justin Wood, who can throw that long ball. He just takes control of the team. I thought Craig Jagger stuck out like a diamond. Same with J.J. Those guys have so much talent. They run. They catch the ball. They’re team leaders for the young kids on the team. They’re just awesome.”
Awesome would also apply to the big guys up front. The Devils’ offensive line opened up gaping holes in the Gunnison defense all night long.
“Overall, our line just really blew them up tonight,” Jagger said.
“We’re playing a lot of kids up front and they’re moving people off the ball,” Ramunno said. “When we run our straight-up base lead plays, our fullback is jumping up, getting five to 10 yards a pop behind those big, old linemen.”
As has been customary this year, the Devils didn’t need long to get on the board against the Cowboys. On the Devils’ first drive, an 18-yard run from Alvis set up a 38-yard scamper from Jagger for a 7-0 lead.
Gunnison replied with a 12-play, 69-yard march to tie the game. When Eagle Valley rolled in the opposite direction for another seven, capped by Jagger’s second TD of the night, it looked like the scoreboard was in for a long night.
But the key moment of the game came on the first play of the second quarter. On second and two from the Devils’ 38-yard line, Gunnison fullback Alan Hux fumbled. Eagle Valley’s Sean Bartlett recovered. On the next play, Wood called his own number for 68 yards. Eagle Valley led 21-7. Good night, Gunnison.
“It looked like it was going to be a track meet. Then they had that fumble,” Ramunno said. “Boom, we jump right in the end zone and then on, we rolled. Our defense was playing heads up to get the ball.”
Drive No. 4 for the Devils took just one play – a 58-yard run for Jagger. Drive No. 5 was just three plays, capped by the prettiest play of the night. Wood put up a bomb to Jagger for 62 yards and Eagle Valley had a 35-7 halftime lead.
“I just dropped back. I had good time from my line,” Wood said. “I looked out for him, saw him and I threw it.”
“I was running a post behind the safety and Wood just happened to get me in stride,” Jagger said. “It was a great pass.”
Gunnison started the second half on the wrong foot. The Devil’s Pat Cole recovered a Cowboys fumble on the Gunnison 35. Two plays later, Alvis cruised 32 yards for a touchdown.
With matters settled, Ramunno was able to flush his bench in and the reserves proved themselves equally capable of finding the end zone. Tyson Ivie rambled 43 yards to the house, while Bartlett, now playing quarterback, had a 14-yarder of his own.
And so the Devils will spend the next week working on the Rams.
“That was a really big win because now we come one step closer to trying win the league championship,” Jagger said. “We just need to come out, fired up and ready to go.”
Extra points: The Devils wore “SKH” on their helmets in honor of Eagle Valley student Skylar Hootman, who died in a car accident last month. “Skylar was their buddy,” Ramunno said. “They’re playing hard for him too. That affected them. They really miss him and they say they’re going to try to dedicate a lot of their hard play to him.” … Friday’s win was Eagle Valley’s first win over Gunnison at Hot Stuff Stadium in four tries. Ironically, the Devils have won at Gunnison, one of the toughest places to play in the 2A Slope. … Ray Buttermore had a pick in the third quarter. … Schedule changes. Friday’s game against Roaring Fork is a 7 p.m. start – not 7:30 p.m. Eagle Valley’s game at Aspen, scheduled for Oct. 26, has been moved to Oct. 25 at 2:30 p.m.