Ouch, literally: Vail Christian falls to Silver State
GYPSUM – The Vail Christian 8-man football team has been so riddled with injuries that even its beat writer sprained his knee Saturday before the Saints’ game against Silver State.Quarterbacks Jon Armstead and Jaryd Francis, running back Bjorn Bauer and lineman Tommy Peskorz didn’t even start. Lineman Oliver Ristow could barely walk. By afternoon’s end, lineman Jake Blair, back AJ Burgess, and lineman Christian Smart were injured. Yet, the Saints found themselves tied, 14-14, Saturday with Silver State before attrition took its toll in a 48-14 loss.”I’m extremely proud of these young men and we’ve just battled through adversity all year long,” Saints coach Tim Pierson said. “We’re down to our third-string quarterback, third-string center right now. We’re out two running backs and they just kept battling. We had to get creative at the start and we got up 14-0. After that, we puttered out and ran out of bodies.”Drawing them up
While one can call the Saints the walking wounded, one cannot call them boring. The Saints had two fake punts, a hook and ladder, a half-back option and even “Mickey Mouse” and “The James Huzella.””To have some fun, I challenged some of the kids to draw up a trick play that I like,” Pierson said. “I name it after them and use it. James Huzella came up with a trick play and handed it to me. I modified it. The snap goes between the legs of the quarterback to the tail back and the tail back runs a sweep and passes it to the end.”The Huzella worked to perfection on the first play of the game. Jonathan Romero lined up at quarterback. The snap went through his legs and right to Sibley who ran to his right and found Caleb Pearson all alone for a 41-yard touchdown pass.”I don’t have enough bodies to do anything, so we can just draw things up and run a couple different things,” Pierson said with a laugh. “We got the hook-and-ladder in today. We got a play dubbed ‘Mickey Mouse’ in today. They didn’t stop it.”For the record, Mickey Mouse went for 25 yards, thanks to Romero. For the record in Mickey Mouse, the Saints get flagged for offsides, but the moment the ref puts the ball down in the new spot, Sibley chucks the ball to Romero for a left sweep while the defense is caught napping.Vail Christian scored more conventionally later in the first quarter. The Saints marched 49 yards on six plays, capped by an 8-yard run by Romero.
Romero led the Saints in rushing with 77 yards on 22 carries. In his first start at quarterback, Sibley was 9-for-30 for 165 yards with one touchdown and three picks. Sibley’s favorite target was Pearson, who had seven catches for 114 yards.SeniorsBut with Saints dropping like flies, it was inevitable. The visiting Patriots rolled up the next 48 points as Pierson was dipping deep into his bench. Silver State quarterback Brandon Hellwig ran nine times for 135 yards and two touchdowns. Backs Justin Mantelli (14 carries for 80 yards and a touchdown) and Joey Achenbach (14 carries for 65 yards and two touchdowns) did their damage. Tyler Matoba also had a touchdown run for the Pats.
Saturday marked the final home game for seniors Armstead, Romero, Blair, Ristow and Sibley. All five and their parents were honored at halftime. “These kids have battled through a lot of adversity and they’ve responded with a lot of character,” Pierson said. “I love those guys and they’ve been great and they’ve been a lot of fun.””These guys are awesome,” Sibley said. “I wouldn’t play football with anybody else. Even when guys get hurt, young guys step up. Everybody loves each other. It’s nice to play with guys you’re so close with.”Vail Christian (4-2) is at Longmont Christian on Friday night. Sports editor Chris Freud , when he is not injuring his knee, can be reached at 949-0555 or via email@example.com.Vail, Colorado