Our first rundown of the new preps season
The dateline was Eagle-Vail, and Battle Mountain football won in Week 2 against Soroco, 42-0, on Sept. 5, 1997, my first story for the Vail Daily.
Princess Diana’s funeral got the cover.
I’m still a little peeved by that.
In that first fall, Eagle Valley football, coached by some guy named John Ramunno, made the 2A state playoffs, but 3A Battle Mountain beat the Devils twice in nonconference play.
Vail Mountain School soccer, coached by some guy named Bob Bandoni, was the best team in the county and made the 3A playoffs along with Steamboat Springs. The Huskies, coached by some youngster named David Cope, did manage to beat Eagle Valley for the first time in few years.
In volleyball, VMS went winless in its first season. Eagle Valley looked like it was playoff-bound until the Huskies upset the Devils at the district tournament. (Remember those?)
Oh, yes, Vail Christian didn’t exist.
So here we are nearly 18 years later and what do we have?
Our first rundown …
It really was a big deal back in 1997 when Huskies soccer beat the Devils. That was a Matt Johnson goal in 1-0 win, and Cope jumped up and down on Eagle Valley’s baseball field, where the game was played. (We would learn that this was emotional outburst for the coach, only exceeded later that year by the birth of Emily Quinn Cope, who is now a senior in high school. Freud bangs his head against his desk.)
It is again a big deal for the Huskies to try to beat the Devils, as the two teams meet tonight at 6 p.m. at — ahem —John Ramunno Field.
(Am I the only one who finds it amusing that the first games at the very justly named field have been soccer games? The football team doesn’t have a home game until Sept. 18.)
OK, the Devils snapped a 15-year skid against the Huskies last fall. That would be Battle Mountain’s motivation. Eagle Valley needs to get into the 4A Slope win column after losing to Glenwood Springs last week. (Good win on Tuesday against Coal Ridge, Devils.)
What’s really interesting about this game is that the rivals, so different in their history, are in rather similar situations.
• Both teams have really tall goalies — seriously, Jack Skidmore is the short guy at 6-ftoot-3 compared to Bryan Grado?
• Both teams need to prove themselves. Is Eagle Valley the emerging program it thinks it is? Is Battle Mountain “back” to its form of being one of the premiere teams in the state?
• Both teams need to avoid giving away points in league play. I give Eagle Valley a pass on last week’s Glenwood game because it was just one of those games, but last year, the Devils got swept by Delta, but beat Steamboat and Battle Mountain. The Eagle Valley game in Gypsum was the typical lapse for the underachieving Huskies last year.
• And both teams need to play their game tonight. There’s a lot of emotion around tonight’s game. The team that settles in and goes about business first wins tonight.
• Hey, I didn’t forget VMS. When I started this job, I was told my beat was Battle Mountain and “a private school with a soccer team.” The Gore Rangers open their season today at Denver Christian. Irony can be very ironic as that’s where the season ended last fall in the quarterfinals.
So Vail Christian football coach Tim Pierson is the gray beard in the local ranks. I would make more jokes about Pierson being the old guy, except I’m older than he is.
• Vail Christian does the honors with the first home game locally on Friday at — ahem — John Ramunno Field against Plateau Valley. The question for the Saints will be who replaces all the backs and receivers in the so-called skill positions. (Giving the ball to Sug Ellsworth apparently isn’t an option as he’s at Creighton now.)
The reason I call them the so-called skill positions is that the Saints return their line on both sides of the ball, and those are skill positions. Experience there should help Vail Christian during the transition.
And, when in doubt, run the bootleg. I’m just betting that this remains head of school Jeremy Lowe’s favorite play.
• Battle Mountain football debuts with Cliff Lohrey at Middle Park. Yes, you guy beat the snot out of this team last year. (I think I may have scored a touchdown in that game.) You must approach this humbly. We are still not at the stage where the Huskies show up and everyone trembles in terror. Not even close. You must prove yourself again. Go. Do.
• Eagle Valley starts up on Saturday at Vista Peak. And let’s make this clear from the beginning. Tom LaFramboise does not have to fill Ramunno’s shoes. We wish John well in retirement. We wish Cindy even better. This is now LaFramboise’s team. Give the guy some space and time.
• And does anyone know what’s on tap for Week 2 with Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain?
Volleyball, XC, softball and golf
• It’s probably a year of transition for our 4A volleyball teams. That does not mean that all is lost. One of the great joys of this job is watching the “kids” grow. (OK, you are kids because all of you were born after I started this job at the Vail Daily.) Back to point, we will see some athletes grow into roles and it’s going to be awesome. Always is. In the meantime, Carlee Morrison and Jordan Brandt can still hit the snot out of a volleyball.
• I call it now — Vail Christian volleyball will be the sleeper team of the fall. Someone always surprises, and the Saints are due for a run.
• Cross-country rankings update: The Battle Mountain girls have moved to the No. 2 spot behind Air Academy in milesplit.com rankings.
• Softball: So far, so good. The ladies are in holding pattern after their game was suspended in the sixth inning at Palisade, leading 3-2. Go beat Rifle on Tuesday.
• It’s time to get serious in golf. Today, it’s off to Steamboat for the regional tuneup at Haymaker. Take notes, fellas.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.