Friday’s matchup biggest of season for Devils
Even General Patton would have been impressed at the intensity of these Devils.
Most likely, the game will determine the 2A Western Slope League champion, but more is in store for Eagle Valley, ranked No. 3 in the state by both major polls. The Devils are fighting for a home-field playoff game, and their second straight league championship.
Roaring Fork, which has flirted with the rankings this season, topping out at No. 9 two weeks ago, is led by tailback James Leonard, who’s carried the ball 87 times this season for 804 yards. The Rams, like Eagle Valley, are 5-0 in the Slope but are 6-1 overall, compared to the Devils’ perfect 7-0.
“They try to get the ball to (Leonard) a lot,” Devils head coach John Ramunno said. “They run a good sweep with him and he’ll be able to cut back. In any big game, turnovers are going to be important. And I think penalties could be costly too.”
Compare the two squads:
n Both teams can throw. Roaring Fork quarterback Evan Carmichael threw 21 times in a blowout 42-7 win at Gunnison. He’s completed 63 percent of his passes for five touchdowns and three interceptions this season. The Devils’ Justin Wood has completed 60 percent of his passes, but hasn’t thrown an interception. Factor in Wood’s 10 touchdown tosses, and the favor goes to the Devils.
n Both teams can run. Leonard is one of three backs for the Rams that have carried the load. But again, looking at just the numbers, the nod goes to Eagle Valley. Senior tailback J.J. Alvis is averaging 12 yards per carry this season, rushing for 543 yards and 10 touchdowns. Add in senior back Craig Jagger (47 carries, 502 yards, eight TDs), junior back Eric Smith (61 carries, 314 yards, seven TDs) and junior Tim Rietz (30 carries, 157 yards, one TD) and the options for Ramunno seem to be endless.
n Both teams can score. Roaring Fork’s averaging 32 points per game, while the Devils average 46. Eagle Valley’s topped 50 points three times this season, and outscored its last two opponents 112-15. Take away the Rams’ 14-point output in their loss to the No. 1 ranked team in 3A, Rifle, and the Rams are right there.
n Both teams are stingy. The two defenses allow about two scores per game, most coming late in the second half. “It could come down to who tackles the best,” Ramunno says, and he could be right. Last year’s contest went to the Devils, 12-7, and the low-scoring output could be the same this year.
n Can they win close games? Eagle Valley’s biggest test came when it trailed 14-6 in the second quarter against 3A Steamboat Springs, but then came back to win 28-20. Roaring Fork barely edged out a struggling Hotchkiss team 21-20, but a win is a win. The Rams also knocked off 3A Glenwood Springs 20-12 in their first game of the season. So the answer, inevitably, is yes.
n Eagle Valley finishes off its season Friday, Oct. 25 with a road trip to the hapless Skiers of Aspen, who won their first game of the season two weeks ago against a winless Olathe squad. The Rams, however, face Cedaredge, who are in third place in the Slope with a 4-1 league record.
Game time Friday is set for 7 p.m.
Softball set to go
Eagle Valley softball starts out the 3A regionals with a road trip to No. 1 ranked Lamar Friday, which is unbeaten on the season. The Devils play at 12:30 p.m. The Devils won their district game Saturday against Gunnison, 14-4.