Eagle Valley looks to break .500
GYPSUM-Eagle Valley football will be in a more familiar spot this year.After going 3-7 in its return season in Class 3-A, the team looks to adjust to the higher competition. With seven returning starters on each side of the ball and 17 seniors, the Devils will be ripe with experience. Head coach John Ramunno knows that he may not have the biggest team in the league, but he’s optimistic about the speed and versatility of his players.”We’re not going to show up and drive-block our opponents into the end zone,” Ramunno said. “I think our kids are going to be quick off the ball, and hopefully up front, we’ll take advantage of some blocking angles.”This summer in addition to the weight room training, the team went to Mesa State College for a five-day camp. Although the team has yet to practice in full equipment, Ramunno, who is in his 25th year at Eagle Valley, won’t have too many difficult decisions to make in terms of a starting lineup.”I think we pretty much have a good idea who are going to be our starters, and our (backups),” Ramunno said.
Putting points on the boardAs has been the case for many years now, the Devils will run the double-wing offense. The backfield will return two 500-yard rushers in seniors Sean Matheson and Cody Comerford. Senior Chris Harvey, who saw lots of time last year, will be the B-back, blocking for the duo this year.Not only are the backs a threat running the ball, but they also can be a menace to defenses when the pass comes into play. “The reason I went to a double wing was I wanted to incorporate more backs into our offense and that allows us to do that,” Ramunno said. “We are able to break (our running backs) out into receivers and take advantage of their speed and hands.”
Ramunno looks to replace quarterback Alex Gamble with junior quarterback Mike Medsker. Along with fellow junior Alex Dorothy, Medsker stepped in for a bit last year while Gamble recovered from a broken hand. Medsker is more confident than when he played as a sophomore and also happy to have familiar feet running routes.”I’m feeling a lot better this year,” said Medsker. “I’ve been working with the (wide receivers) for a while, so we really know each other.” Replacing the tight end vacancies will be Nolan Schwan, Tim Peters, and Joe Felix.The offensive line will be similar to last year, although Brian Saldana’s presence will be missed. Kylan Kottenstette will fill in for Saldana at left guard. Kottenstette, who will also play linebacker, thinks there will be less adjustment than last year.”It helps that last year a lot of us played varsity as juniors,” Kottenstette said. “Also, our hard work this summer will hopefully pay off.”Between the backfield, quarterback, and receiving corps, Eagle Valley has some quality offensive weapons, but the key to using the weapons will be blocking and communicating.
On the other side of the ball”We are excited about our defense,” said Ramunno. “We are going to be very mobile.”Up front, Chris Harvey is back at nose guard. Jacob Rivera, who was honorable-mention all-league last year is back on the line. Brendon Best, Schwan, and David McMichael round out the top five of the 5-2 defensive spread.Rivera likes that the speed is not only in the backs, but all around.
“We have a real fast team with great athletes,” he said.At linebacker, the Devils have Kottenstette, Maurice Mitchell, and Felix. Matheson, Medsker, and Comerford will highlight the defensive backs that has seven Devils who saw considerable time last season.In addition to the regular defensive lineup, Ramunno will incorporate prevent and goal-line spreads. Much like on the offensive side of the ball, teamwork will be essential to keeping points off the board.”We need to work on getting everything on the same heartbeat,” Kottenstette said, echoing a statement that Ramunno often says to the team.There will be plenty of time to familiarize the team with players and plays during preseason, although with half of the 60 players in the junior and senior class, many of the players are quite familiar with each other. The Devils will pick captains sometime before their first game, as Ramunno likes to “let them all be leaders right now.”With all of the skill on the field, Eagle Valley could bring in a winning record. But the players know that having the tools is only half the game.”The mental aspect is really important,” Rivera said. “We have the ability. We just have to get it right in our heads.”Vail, Colorado
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