Eagle Valley heads to Roosevelt for playoffs
And then there was one.
Eagle Valley football, go east, young men.
The last local team left in the postseason, the Devils open the 3A football playoffs at Roosevelt today at 1 p.m.
First off, I didn’t cut and paste the phrase of “Eagle Valley at Roosevelt” from last season, even though this is a rematch. Of course, one doesn’t need to remind the Devils that the Roughriders won this game, 42-7, last year.
Eagle Valley’s the underdog, but last week’s game, a 19-18 win over Central, shows a few reasons why people shouldn’t give the Roughriders an automatic pass to the second round.
• The Devils beat a 4A team. Yes, Central was down at 3A, but that’s a big school that is trending upward. Central led Delta in Week 9. I don’t care if you’re playing up or down or in the middle, not many teams have had a lead on Delta this year.
• Central was bigger. The Warriors offensive and defensive line dictated in the first half. The Devils offense couldn’t get anything going on the ground. Central quarterback Erminio Barerra was running all over the place. Eagle Valley found a way to turn that around. That will be handy today against Roosevelt.
• Eagle Valley turned it around with two weapons. The first was defense. That Devils’ D produced six turnovers against the Warriors. That’s darn impressive. By the way, Corben Funk had a season in one game with three interceptions. That was awesome.
Remember the 3A Slope is typically a three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-rubber-pellets/dust league. Central was running a spread/read-option offense, which teams don’t often see around here. Eagle Valley was able to adapt and win. That’s a statement.
• No. 2 was the passing game. It’s come in starts and stops this year. Running out of the pistol, the Devils have had their moments through the air. Garrett Martin’s 40-yard pass to Charlie Fessenden late in the first half was the biggest play of the game on the offensive side of the ball last week. That cracked open the Central defense. Not only did it lead to Eagle Valley’s first touchdown, another pass, but it also kept the Warriors honest in the second half. They had to respect the pass, which opened the run. Remember, Roosevelt didn’t have to deal with this angle.
• There’s also the Slope. The league has produced a quarter of the 3A playoff field. You survive that, particularly back-to-back games against Delta and Palisade, and you’ve got some mettle.
Go, get ’em, Devils.
Gore Ranger postscript
I’ll call a few things right now. First off, there’s a reason you lost to Kent Denver. The Sun Devils are excellent. They’re going to beat Fountain Valley today in the 3A state title game. (Nothing I saw in the second game indicates that either team is going to have a shot against Kent.)
And that — Kent Denver — is now your target. VMS, you’ve played against what it takes to win a state title. To be that is your goal. You’re not far.
The Gore Rangers return a whole heaping bunch of their team next year. They’re going to get older and bigger, and I’d bet that some players we might not know right now will step into some roles.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kent and VMS meet next fall.
In the meantime, there’s this. When people ask me what my favorite thing about my job is, my response is, “I get paid to watch sports.” True. A favorite moment remains seeing one of our four local schools go deep in the postseason and its name on a scoreboard somewhere in the Front Range.
This applies at the Denver Coliseum for state volleyball when those paper signs are attached to the scoreboards. I particularly liked when Vail Christian went to the 1A state basketball tournament a few years ago and the Saints wrote “Vail Chris” on the board. (Go, Freuds!) It was a thrill to see “VMS” on a Denver scoreboard and I was am very proud to have this team this season.
• Eagle Valley alumna Mariel Gutierrez has had a whopper of a first season with Northern Colorado women’s soccer. She had the equalizer in regulation, her seventh goal of the season, in the Big Sky title game against Idaho, and she also converted her kick in the shootout that sent the Bears to their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
Gutierrez has been named first-team all-conference, won the league’s Top Newcomer Award and was on the Big Sky all-tournament team.
• While UNC was scheduled to play at Arizona on Friday night, the Colorado School of Mines has advanced to the second round of the Division II NCAA Tournament. Mines beat Texas A&M-Commerce, 2-1, and Acacia Ortiz, formerly of Battle Mountain, assisted on the game-winner.
Miss Ortiz helped the Orediggers win the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Tournament and was tourney MVP. Mines plays at Dallas Baptist in Round 2 today.
• Congratulations to CU cross-country. The men and women swept not only the Pac-12 Championships, but also the Mountain Region on Friday. That brings us to Val Constien, who finished within the top 25. She is all-region. The Buffs and Constien head to the NCAA Championships next weekend in Kentucky.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.
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