Saints win the trenches; defeat Elbert, 32-0
Vail Christian football
Elbert 0 0 0 0 — 0
Saints 6 12 6 8 — 32
V – Sug Ellsworth, 5 run, run failed, 7:40
V – Ellsworth, 6 run, run fails, 10:21
V – Ellsworth, 3 run, pass failed, 2:51
V – Mike Lange, 32 run, pass failed, 8:02
V – Ellsworth, 5 run, run good, 8:04
EDWARDS — If you like high-flying, high-scoring 8-man football, then Saturday’s Vail Christian-Elbert game at Battle Mountain High School in Edwards just didn’t do it for you.
The Saints delivered a body blow to Elbert in the form of 379 rushing yards in a 32-0 Central League win, which kept Vail Christian undefeated at 5-0.
“Our line played unbelievable,” quarterback Mike Lange said. “Sug (Ethan Ellsworth) played great. We kept pushing it, and we got the win.”
Dominant line play
Vail Christian got the win because of fantastic work on both sides of the line. The offensive line is Ryan Hethcote, Keaghen Mullin, and freshman Riley Spear, who did a fantastic job in place of Johnny Barron, who was out with concussion. On the other side of the ball, the front was Hethcote with Mullin, Alex Davis and Max Schramm.
As gaudy as the offensive numbers were — the Saints averaged a whopping. 5.7 yards per carry on 67 touches — and as hard as the tackles were, it all starts with the big guys up front, and Vail Christian’s crew was superb on Saturday.
“I don’t care about offense for me,” Hethcote said. “I like seeing those guys get the long runs and the big gains.”
Hethcote was a happy guy as Lange topped the Saints with 139 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. Ellsworth had 27 carries for 133 yards and four scores. Davis, a runner on offense, had 19 carries for 73 yards, while Schramm went five times for 34 yards.
And just as the Vail Christian O-line was pounding on Elbert, the Blue Crush defense did the same thing when the Bulldogs had the ball.
On Elbert’s second possession, Davis pounded Bulldogs quarterback Shawn Graves, and Lange jumped on the fumble. Two plays later, the Saints were in the end zone for a 12-0 lead.
To start the second half, Lange picked a pass from Graves. Three plays later, Lange ripped off a 32-yard run to the house, and this was all but over.
“That’s just awesome because you know the line played well,” Hethcote said. “And then you know that we’re going to keep going down the field and that you did well.”
Elbert tried to come back in the third quarter, but lost running back Ross Millard to an apparent leg injury. On the next play, Schramm dumped Graves for a loss and Ellsworth intercepted him on the following snap.
A Logan Raitt interception set up the Saints’ final scoring drive. Ethan Kuhns ended Elbert’s last possession with a sack.
As well as Saturday’s outing went; the Saints still have two issues on the table. The first is ball security. Vail Christian had four fumbles with three of those giving the Bulldogs possession via recovery or by downs. The Saints could overcome that on Saturday, but not against the strong teams they would like to play in the postseason.
Vail Christian also needs to work on conditioning. In fairness, this was likely the first game the Saints’ starters played the entire game because of previous routs of opponents. Vail Christian players went down often with cramps or other small injuries. Again, not a big deal against Elbert, but it will be down the road.
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