Devils, Huskies and Saints ready for football
I am paid to watch football.
There are lots of fun things about my job, but this is one of the greatest things about my job — cover a game on Friday, possibly cover another football game on Saturday, and then watch the NFL on Sunday and Monday, with, of course, the San Francisco Giants thrown in liberally.
Friday Night Lights, big hits, big plays — yeah, life is good.
Here’s what to look for when it comes to Eagle Valley, Battle Mountain and Vail Christian.
Whatever happens, one cannot accuse Eagle Valley football of having a cupcake schedule. Sure, Alabama opens with Southern Cal, but the Tide’s other nonconference games are Western Kentucky, Kent State and Chattanooga.
No such luck for the Devils. While they’re doing a stacked nonconference slate with an eye toward rating-percentage index, I admire Eagle Valley for lining up the best schedule it can find and going for it.
A 2-3 mark against Kent Denver, Erie, Lutheran, Evergreen and Northridge wouldn’t be the end of the world. Of course, the Devils want 5-0, but if they come out 3-2 or 4-1, the Slope better watch out.
The second season under a new coach is always smoother than the first — and let’s face it, a football coaching change is revolutionary in Gypsum. And Eagle Valley did well to go 7-3 last year, and make the playoffs in Tom LaFramboise’s first year.
The “skill” position players are back. I put skill in quotations as linemen are the engines, which make everything go on both sides of the ball.
Those units are always the question marks as long as Rifle and Palisade remain in the 3A Slope.
Rifle’s upgraded its schedule (Basalt, Montrose, Florence, Kennedy and Conifer) and Palisade’s is positively beastly (Central, Holy Family, Montrose, Fruita and Delta), so I can see three teams coming out of the Slope.
Can Eagle Valley finally beat Rifle? Last year’s game was closer than the score indicated (26-0). Palisade might be a reach, but it couldn’t happen to a nicer team, if it did. (Whatever biases may be perceived by our readers, I respect Rifle, but I hate Palisade in football.)
My crystal ball has the Devils in the postseason.
I totally approve of how Battle Mountain did its nonconference schedule with regard to rating-percentage index. Barring a miracle, the Huskies aren’t making the playoffs this year, so strength of schedule is irrelevant and 2A schools are fine.
Don’t send the emails; Battle Mountain was 0-6 against 3A squads while rebuilding at 2A, so making the 3A playoffs is a long shot.
And that leads the Huskies to their first goal — beating a 3A team, say, like in Zero Week when Steamboat comes to town. (Yes, the Sailors are now 2A, but the Huskies have been close the last two years in this old 3A rivalry.)
With Steamboat, Roaring Fork, Coal Ridge, Basalt and Green Mountain, the Huskies have a competitive nonconference slate. Remember Basalt won last year’s game and Green Mountain is coming down from 4A, so there are no automatics here.
The 3A Slope could be tough sledding for Battle Mountain. Glenwood Springs was uncharacteristically down last year with a 1-9 record. I don’t see the Huskies down for long, given the history of the program.
A record of 4-6 or 5-5 would be fine season in Edwards.
Welcome to 11-man football, Vail Christian. This is a step up for the Saints, but a welcome one. First, we’ve got six more starting jobs available. Second, it’s unlikely the Saints will have unscheduled byes anymore. (Huzzah.)
There will be challenges to the process, but Vail Christian should be able to handle them. We can’t assume playoffs like the olden days of 8-man, but the Saints aren’t going to be a doormat.
I like that Vail Christian has scheduled Cedaredge and Hotchkiss after opening the season with Grand Valley and Lake County. The Bruins are a playoff regulars and Hotchkiss is usually stout.
The Foothills is a new conference, due to realignment, but Bennett and Platte Canyon appear to be the class of the circuit until proven otherwise.
As fun as 8-man was, Vail Christian needs this challenge, and will rise to it. A winning season is not unrealistic.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and@cfreud.
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