Eagle Valley football falls at Kent Denver, 18-8
DENVER — This is a loss that hurts like heck right now, but may be good in the long run.
Eagle Valley football dropped a heartbreaker in the final minute to Kent Denver, 18-8, on Friday afternoon in Denver. The Devils led, 8-6, with 55 seconds left, before Sun Devils quarterback Joey Licht bulled his way for a 4-yard touchdown run. With so little time left, Eagle Valley quarterback Garrett Martin had to go deep and the result was a pick-six, making the score not as close as the contest really was.
“I think we can learn a lot from it,” Devils coach Tom LaFramboise said. “We just made too many mistakes. The effort was there and we can take that. They played hard. We just need to clean up some things.”
A tougher schedule
Kent Denver is now 2-0 in 2016 and boasts a 43-4 record in the last five-or-so regular seasons. This is relevant for two reasons.
The first is the Devils (0-1) have to play better teams than, say Vista Peak in their opener, because the 3A Slope (read, Rifle, Palisade and Glenwood Springs) lies ahead, and Eagle Valley needs to be ready for big-time football. Even though it was a loss on Friday, the Devils can play good teams from the Front Range.
“I think you have to build on the positives,” LaFramboise said. “We all made mistakes, but we can come out of this feeling good. We played a strong team from Denver, and I think that’s always been a mental block. Now we have to learn how to finish.”
The 43-4 record is also important because rating-percentage index (RPI) is the playoff-qualifying system for CHSAA now. The Devils certainly hope the Sun Devils go 9-0 during the regular season to bolster Eagle Valley’s strength of schedule under RPI.
Making the coach look good
After a scoreless first half, the Devils used good special teams and some gutsy play-calling to take an 8-0 lead. The Eagle Valley defense had just stuffed Kent Denver and the Sun Devils fumbled the snap on the punt. Eagle Valley’s Kyle Jordan came up with the ball and the Devils were in business.
LaFramboise went for it on fourth-and-13 from the Kent 37 and Martin made him look like a very smart coach with a 17-yard run.
“It’s a weird part of the field,” LaFramboise said. “Do you go for it or do you kick it and give them the ball on the 20? If you have Garrett Martin, you have a lot of faith in what you are doing.”
Yes, you do.
Two plays later, Martin fired a 25-yard touchdown pass to Matthew Sanchez. Martin called his own number on the 2-point conversion and the Devils were up, 8-0.
The Devils offense was a little hamstrung without two senior offensive lineman Tate Carlson and Anthony Martinez. According to the KSKE radio broadcast, Martin was sacked nine times on Friday. The good news is that coach LaFramboise expects both linemen back shortly.
Eagle Valley almost got out of Dodge with a win, nonetheless. Eagle Valley’s defense was stout, but couldn’t stop the Sun Devils when they got the ball on the Devils’ 40 with 3:49 left in the game.
Eagle Valley has its home opener on Friday at John Ramunno Field against Erie.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.