Devils upended for second year in a row by Eaton, 28-12
GYPSUM – The Eagle Valley Devils were hoping to write a better sequel on Saturday during their second-round playoff game at Hot Stuff Stadium against No. 1-ranked Eaton, after getting blasted by the Reds in last year’s semifinal game.
When the end credits rolled though, the final outcome echoed the same plotline as 2002, as Eaton capitalized on Devils’ turnovers and bottled up Eagle Valley’s running attack for a 28-12 win.
“We just got some breaks. We hit a long pass and we had several interceptions,” said Reds coach Bill Mondt. “I knew they would be be a tough team and I knew last year’s game was tougher than the final score indicated. I just don’t think their quarterback was was throwing as well as he usually does. He made some poor throws.”
The Reds broke open what was a tight 7-6 ball game in the first half by picking off two passes from Eagle Valley quarterback Sean Bartlett and converting them into scores. Defensive back Nathan Bruce, who also was the Reds’ lead dog on offense, nabbed the first pass with the Devils facing a second-and-13 from their own 33.
On the ensuing Eaton drive, the Devils forced the Reds into a fourth-and-goal situation from the 8-yard line, but were fooled by a reverse play which backup quarterback Adam Trujillo ran into the left corner of the endzone, to put the Reds up, 14-6.
On the very first play of the next possession, Bartlett was again picked off, this time by Eaton defensive back Jordan Hungenberg. Two plays later, the Reds went for the jugular as senior quarterback Aaron Price rolled left and lofted a 43 yard touchdown strike to wideout Kyle Lobato, who had gotten behind Eagle Valley’s Sean Matheson.
“We wanted to get some more points before halftime,” said Price, who sat out last week’s win against Holy Family with flu-like symptoms. “All I had to do was get it up to him and he did a good job catching the ball.”
“It was a tight ball game and we just thought that we might be able to get behind them,” added Mondt, regarding the play call that made the score, 21-6, Eaton. “The corners were playing good pass defense, being real tough on everything. [Lobato] was just able to get behind him.”
After going into the locker room down by 15 at the break, The Devils came out in the second half and made the game interesting. Both teams struggled on offense in the third quarter, with the defenses continuing to force punts. The Devils got a huge break, though, early in the fourth quarter when Eaton’s Travis Anderson muffed a Devils punt at his own 35, and Eagle Valley’s Jerad Schlegel recovered.
The Devils scored on a 6-yard quarterback keeper by Sean Bartlett to trail by, 21 -12, with 11 minutes to go in regulation.
On the ensuing Eaton possession, the Reds managed to gain only one first down before having to punt again, but the Devils couldn’t capitalize on their momentum to pull within one score. Bartlett threw two incomplete passes on Eagle Valley’s next drive and, with the Devils facing a fourth-and-five from their own 25, Eagle Valley was forced to punt.
“When you run the double wing, you’ve got to score,” said Devils’ coach John Ramunno. “And then, once you score, you’ve got to keep scoring. You’ve got to need the lead or be just one back. But once we fell two back, we are kind of getting out of what we do. We just didn’t have the day, throwing and catching that we probably could have.”
The Reds last score of the day, came on the following possession as Bruce scored his second touchdown of the day on a 1-yard plunge.
After the kickoff, Eagle Valley’s Bartlett was picked off for the third time on a desperation fourth-down pass from his own 40-yard line. The Reds ran out the clock from there.
“We talked a lot about not giving up, playing every play as hard as you could no matter what happens,” said Ramunno. “I think our kids did that today. I’m really proud of these kids for going 8-3 after losing the amount of kids we did last year. This is a special senior class of 14.”
Nate Peterson is a sports writer for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 608 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.