Saints football dominates all-league selections

Vail Christian's Mike Lange, left, is an all-league after a season as a double threat on offense and leading the team's defense in interceptions.
Townsend Bessent | Daily file photo |

EDWARDS — This all-league story will be turned on its ear.

Sure, Vail Christian football had five first team all-league selections from the Central League after beating the stuffing out of the circuit. But the first guy we mention is the kid who got an honorable-mention award.

Ryan Hethcote.

He’s a junior. He blocked. He played defensive line. There isn’t much glory here. He did his job well.

So-called skill players get the nod in postseason honors, but they can’t display their skills without blockers or linemen who are the first in, disrupting things.

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Hethcote has no numbers offensively, except for the fact the Saints ran for 2,735 yards during the 10 games recorded on and totaled 3,492 of total offense (The 11th, a quarterfinal loss to Dayspring Christian, probably wouldn’t have added substantially to these numbers.)

Hethcote had 44 total tackles, a good number for a lineman, four sacks, a fumble recovery and well-diagnosed sniff out of a fake punt by Merino at a key point of that playoff game.

Bottom line — the beef up front like Hethcote wins football games (along with fellow linemen Keaghen Mullin and Riley Spear) and made the following awards possible.

Nice backfield

Yes, Sug Ellsworth is a pretty good athlete. This is documented. There is no Player of the Year in the Central League, but he’s it if there were. In the meantime, he is all-league.

The son of the team’s offensive coordinator, Todd, Sug always liked defense better and that showed with 109 tackles. The third of the Ellsworth clan also showed that he could run early and often with 1,418 yards of rushing and 25 touchdowns.

Perhaps there will be a spot for him on the basketball team.

Mike Lange, also a first teamer, was officially the quarterback for the Saints. The reason we say officially is that the majesty of the single wing is disguising to whom the snap goes. When it actually went to Lange, he was a double threat. His passing numbers — 50-for-73 for 730 yards with 11 touchdowns and two picks — are darn good on a team whose offensive philosophy was run-first, run-second and then consider the forward pass.

Joking aside, Lange could pass as he did for three scores in the defining victory of the season, a 38-34 playoff triumph over Merino. Those same legs, which helped him scramble against the Rams on passing attempts, also allowed him to run for 612 yards and 12 scores this season. Defensively, Lange led the Saints with six picks.

All-leaguer Max Schramm added some serious size to Vail Christian’s backfield. His numbers offensively were not huge, but good luck stopping him when he did have the ball. In addition to blowing up defenders on runs, he caught 13 passes for 151 yards, including a memorable 40-yard reception for six, carrying Merino Rams with him on the way to the end zone.

As a defensive end, he had 75 tackles and was one tough cookie. He got his left leg twisted in a pile-up against Dayspring, but returned to the game.

The Davises

They aren’t related, but they are both all-league. Clayton, a senior, and Alex, a junior, are both listed as tight ends, split ends and defensive backs on the roster, which sort of works because they did a little bit of everything.

Alex led the team in receiving, with Clayton No. 2 in that department. Alex became a bigger part of the running game as the season progressed. Clayton was a special teams force with kickoff returns (two for six) and punting (great save in the Merino game).

One theme among those honored is that four of them — Ellsworth, Lange, Schramm and Clayton Davis — were seniors and co-captains, and Hethcote and Alex Davis were also leaders for a Saints team that has gone 15-3 the past two seasons and won two Central League titles.

“They won at Soroco for the first time (in 2012),” Saints coach Tim Pierson said. “They were the team that won at Rangely for the first time and gave West Grand their first 8-man league loss (in 2013). This year, they got the school’s second playoff win against a very good Merino team. They’ve been a part of the last three years playing major roles in pivotal points in this program’s history.”

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, and @cfreud.

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