Devils meet rival Huskies Friday to open season
Friday at Battle Mountain High School, Eagle Valley and the Huskies will kick off the 2002-03 football season with a cross-county showdown under the lights.
The Devils are coming off an 8-2 season that saw them win the 3A Western Slope League championship. But this year, after losing a dozen seniors to graduation, someone watching practice might understand why they’re working harder.
This season’s crop of veterans get the added pleasure of facing the Huskies in the opener, the first time the two schools have played in the regular season in four years.
“We have a pretty solid group of seniors,” Eagle Valley head coach John Ramunno said. “I think if we get our offensive line together this year, we’ll have a real tough group, too.”
With seniors J.J. Alvis and Craig Jagger running the ball behind five seniors (Dan Rivera, John Saldana, Josh Denboskie, Phillip Rivera and Trevor Schlegel), the double wing offense Ramunno’s known for should have plenty of options.
“We’ve got a good offensive line,” Jagger said. The lineman have been volunteering all season to run hills after practice, much to the delight of Ramunno and the people they’re protecting. “We’ve been working hard. We got guys running up the hill. That didn’t used to happen.”
Plus, senior Justin Wood returns as quarterback. Wood threw for more than a 1,000 yards and completed 50 percent of his passes last season.
“Any time you return your quarterback, that’s a plus,” Ramunno said. “(Wood) has gotten a lot stronger. I think any coach will be excited to see their quarterback bench 235 pounds the first day of practice.”
Alvis, who rushed for 582 yards last season, added weight, as did Jagger. Not only are the Devils and Huskies ready to get out of the weight room and into their pads, knowing their rival will be on the field Friday has added to the anticipation.
“It’s a great plus for both schools,” Battle Mountain head coach Fred Koetteritz said. “That’s always such a fun game. Whether it’s down at Hot Stuff or up here, both sides of the stands are full. there’s a lot of excitement. It’s great to play them rather than scrimmage them.”
With Meeker, Paonia and Rangely dropping down to 2A and Aspen moving into the 3A ranks, the Devils still had one spot to fill on their schedule. So, Ramunno added Steamboat Springs, his old stomping ground, for the second game of the season and home opener on Sept. 6. The rest of the season will be conference games.
Game time this Friday is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Battle Mountain High School.
The rest of the fall sports teams at Eagle Valley will also begin their seasons this weekend. Eagle Valley volleyball starts action in Glenwood Springs. The Devils’ softball team travels to the Boulder County Invite for a three-day tournament starting Friday, while the boys soccer team is also at Glenwood Springs.