Eaton spoils Devils’ state run
Eagle Valley couldn’t overcome four turnovers and a huge day by Eaton running back Brandon Trujillo in the 2A state semifinals, as the Devils were handed their first loss of the season, 51-6. On a bright and sunny afternoon, Trujillo rushed 16 times for 180 yards and five touchdowns behind a powerful Reds offensive line.
“That’s not the way we wanted to go out,” Devils head coach John Ramunno said. “I felt like we just weren’t the same today. We were just a little off. But give that team credit. They’re a good, big, strong squad. They have a good chance at winning the whole thing.”
With the win, Eaton advances to its third-straight 2A championship game, this time at Holy Family, who knocked off Burlington, 34-14, in the other semifinal. Saturday, early first-quarter action foreshadowed the eventual rout. After holding Eaton at midfield, the Reds’ punt pinned Eagle Valley at the 3-yard line. On the Devils’ first play, senior J.J. Alvis was tackled in the end zone for a safety.
On the free kick, Eaton’s Chris Swain returned the ball to the Devils’ 22-yard line – the first of seven possessions the Reds would start on the short side of the field. Swain, who also quarterbacks, connected with junior Aaron Price in the end zone and, soon enough, Eaton held a 9-0 lead.
Later in the first quarter, the Devils would answer. Alvis took a handoff from senior Justin Wood, found the sideline and then made a nifty cutback to the middle of the field, going all of 68 yards to score and cut the lead to three.
Eaton had its own answer, and its name was Trujillo. The senior added two 15-yard touchdown runs just before halftime and, quickly, the Devils could see the game slipping away.
In the second half, turnovers led to four-straight Reds’ possessions that started in Devils’ territory. Trujillo scored on a 3-yard scamper off an off-tackle run and, a moment later, scored on a 27-yard spring on Eaton’s first play of the drive.
“(Field position) was huge,” said Swain, who completed 6-of-11 passes for 70 yards, one touchdown and one interception. “When our defense steps up and makes big stops, our offense can open it up. It’s the 50-50 thing. If one half of the team is playing well, it picks up the other half.”
Eaton would score on its last four possessions of the game, capped by a 67-yard touchdown by, surprise, Trujillo.
For the Devils, this season couldn’t have been more of a surprise. At the start, Eagle Valley wasn’t ranked and was considered the underdog to Cedaredge to win the 2A Western Slope League. The Devils had graduated 13 seniors and logic said it would be a rebuilding year. This happens. Teams go through cycles. But it couldn’t have been any more the opposite. Eagle Valley won its first 11 games of the season, tying a school record. The Devils shut out their first two opponents in the postseason, including a 35-0 win over Wray at home.
“11-1, that’s good,” said Alvis, who finished with 66 yards rushing on six carries. All season, he’s been exciting the Eagle Valley faithful with his patented dashes down the field. “We made them believe, when you lose 13 seniors, that you can still succeed. Everybody told us we weren’t going to be good. But football’s football. Anybody can win at any time.”
A large part of the success came from a solid group of senior lineman, who took pride in and partial credit for Eagle Valley’s explosive offense. Senior Josh Denboske was sidelined late in the second quarter against Eaton with a shoulder injury, but returned in the second half.
Another standout for Eagle Valley was Wood, who finished off a spectacular season by completing 9-of-19 passes for 58 yards. His two interceptions Saturday didn’t tell the story of his season. Wood completed well more than half his passes and ended up with only three picks on the year.
Senior Craig Jagger led the team in carries this season and peaked with a four-touchdown game against Gunnison. Saturday, Jagger’s defense shined. His sack in the third quarter kept the Reds from blowing the game open earlier.
Senior Pat Kohl was a major force for the Devils defense, and he made a catch against Eaton.
“I think this team showed everybody,” Ramunno said, “that no matter what happened the year before, we can still come out and win. We had a lot of people who filled in nicely.”
NOTES: Alvis also had an interception in the first quarter … Junior Sean Bartlett, Kohl, Jagger and junior Jerad Schlegel all had sacks … Eaton’s average starting spot in the second half was the Devils’ 35-yard line … Eagle Valley’s fans came through again. The visiting side of the field was filled from goal post to goal post with folks dressed in red and black.