Hurtt leads Vail Christian football honorees
EDWARDS – The season ended far too soon for Vail Christian 8-man football.
The Saints won four of their final five games after an 0-3 start, and their only loss during that stretch was to eventual Central League champion, Justice, in overtime.
Vail Christian had the unenviable task of facing 8-man powerhouse Merino in the playoffs, losing just 38-0. (Putting that into perspective, only Dayspring Christian, Merino’s likely opponent in the state-title game in three weeks, held the Rams to fewer points this season.)
With a superbly talented class of freshman who flashed their skills in 2009, the future seems bright for Vail Christian football.
“It all depends on how hard they work,” Saints coach Tim Pierson said. “They’ve got to get to the weight room. We had a lot of guys who played their first year of football this season. There’s the potential in the freshman class to be like the (team) of 2003.”
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That’s rarefied air. The 2003 team, which thundered through the Central League and made the state quarterfinals, was unquestionably the best football team the school has fielded.
Only time will tell what the future holds, but one thing is for certain. The future of Vail Christian football is possible because of the stage set by this year’s seniors. The Class of 2010 of Saints’ football got its send-off this week at its postseason banquet, where Pierson got to hand out some all-league hardware. Kieran Hurtt, Larry Cavanaugh and Dan Schramm all made the first team while Granger Moch picked up honorable mention.
It was Hurtt and Cavanaugh, not Pierson, who did the talking after the Saints hit their nadir at 0-3 with a home loss to Rocky Mountain Lutheran at home. The two saw the Saints’ season slipping away, and their talk was the season’s turning point.
“Absolutely. During that talk the team sensed a sense of urgency,” Hurtt said. “From that point on, it clicked.”
The two not only talked a good game, but played one as well.
Hurtt , who was all-league last season and honorable mention his sophomore year, was the anchor on both sides of the ball. A four-year starter, he is best known for his defense – he led the team in tackles by a wide margin the last two seasons. Hurtt also played left guard, plowing the road, as well as running in short-yardage situations and catching passes.
And if that weren’t enough versatility, one of Hurtt’s two best memories of his Saints’ football career came on special teams. As a freshman, he blocked a punt, returning it for a touchdown. When he got the end zone on that play, he realized the ball was deflated because of his block. He still has the ball as a trophy.
“Kieran has been a staple of our program,” Pierson said. “With our team so young, he just instilled a sense of confidence. ‘Kieran’s here. We’re OK.'”
Hurtt hopes to play college football at either the NAIA or Division III level. In the meantime, he’ll be playing basketball for the Saints this winter.
Cavanaugh will be one of his teammates on the hardwood. After coming back from a broken collar bone his sophomore year, Cavanaugh was the team’s quarterback and also headed up the secondary.
“This thing that it was huge for him was that he was physical on defense,” Pierson said. “That’s huge for a quarterback. There were a lot of games where we called his number on fourth-and-short or fourth-and-5, and we were not afraid to go to him. He did a lot of things right on and off the field.”
While guys like Cavanaugh and freshmen Mack Cooper and Nigel Johnson go the headlines on offense, it was the work of players like Schramm who made it possible. Schramm, like his fellow all-leaguers, played on both sides of ball, and was a force.
“He played through every play,” Pierson said. “The biggest thing with Dan is that he always kept his motor running. He kept pursuing the quarterback and kept battling.”
Moch’s forte is basketball, but he showed that he had the chops for the gridiron as well. He used his basketball abilities as a wide receiver and on defense.
Moch, a junior returns, along with a host of talented young Saints.
“I can’t wait to see what they’ll do,” Hurtt said. “I definitely see a league championship in the future.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.