Devils stun Frederick
Vail, CO Colorado
FREDERICK — The Eagle Valley football team completed a very satisfying switcheroo on Saturday afternoon.
Just a year after losing eight games, the Devils won for the eighth time in 2012. And the fact that the eighth victory came in a 3A state playoff game just made it all the better.
The Devils, seeded 14th in their first posteason appearance in seven years, dominated No. 3 Frederick on its home field, winning 33-8 in a first-round game.
With Eagle Valley now sporting an 8-3 record, it has twice as many victories this season as it’s had in the previous three years combined.
“If you get kids like these who work their butts off in the summer and go to camps, you can turn things around real quick,” noted veteran coach John Ramunno. “My dad always told me, ‘If you have the animals you have the zoo.’ And I think I’ve got a pretty good little zoo.”
And those “animals” ruled the place Saturday on a snowy afternoon. The Devils forced three Frederick turnovers in the first quarter, five for the game, and hit the Warriors with a haymaker by bolting out to a 20-0 lead.
And it didn’t hurt having Cole Nielsen rush for 211 yards and catch a pass for another 35. The senior scored on touchdown plays of 10, 35 and 75 yards.
“Today all the seniors had huge emotion,” Nielsen said. “If we lose, it’s the end of our high school football careers. We just all have that extra boost to keep playing and win another week.”
Saturday’s victory earns Eagle Valley a quarterfinal home game next weekend — likely Saturday at 1 p.m. — against sixth-seeded Conifer, which defeated Northridge 38-31 on Friday.-
Against Frederick, the Devils wasted no time in making a statement. They scored touchdowns on their first two drives — both capped by Nielsen — with a Warriors fumble setting up the second.-
Two more Frederick turnovers, including one at the Eagle Valley 4-yard line, kept the Devils’ momentum going. And they went up 20-0 when quarterback Jordon Hudspeth, despite fumbling at the line of scrimmage, ran 9 yards for a touchdown with two minutes left in the half.
Two additional Warrior turnovers in the third quarter, plus a muffed punt attempt that led to a quick Eagle Valley TD, effectively put the game away.
All of which left the Warriors wondering what had hit them.
“We should not have lost that game,” said running back Jacob Sleeth, who rushed for 121 yards and Frederick’s lone score. “We should have been prepared better. We came out thinking we were going to walk over them and we didn’t.”
With Eagle Valley’s quick start and the weather conditions quickly deteriorating just before halftime, things played out ideally for the Devils, who snapped a two-game losing streak.
“This weather was nuts today, but it kind of played into our hands,” Ramunno said. “In our offense we just like to go straight ahead. We’ve got four seniors on our O-line and two senior tight ends who are pretty good blockers, so (the weather) played into our hands today. We had to go straight ahead.”
And on defense, besides forcing five turnovers, the Devils had senior Andy Armstrong wreaking havoc on Frederick’s offense.
The Warriors had advanced to the quarterfinals and semifinals of the 3A state playoffs the past two years — losing to the eventual champions in each case — but Saturday they were derailed in the first round, finishing with an 8-3 record.
And meanwhile, Eagle Valley continues its Cinderella run.
“We just had to get into the playoff bracket and we knew we’d do great,” Nielsen said. “We always have confidence we can beat anyone we play. Today we showed that.”
Added Ramunno: “That’s a great win for the Devils, right there. “