Slope hands down honors for Devils
GYPSUM – When Eagle Valley football coach John Ramunno puts good athletes on the field, it doesn’t matter where they are playing.Several Devils’ switched up positions in their senior year and made seamless transitions, earning postseason honors.Leading the way for Eagle Valley were seniors Mike Medsker and Brendan Best, both first team all-league selections in the 3A Western Slope. “I think when you played against us, you had to account for what Mike was doing,” Ramunno said of his starting quarterback. “We moved (Brendan) from offensive line to the backfield … and he’s such a physical kid that he’ll get you that first down.”Medsker, who was also quarterback last year, moved from defensive line to defensive back, while honorable mention Alex Dorothy moved from backup quarterback to wingback and from defensive back to defensive end. Senior Jordan VanVoorst and junior Nick Whitehead saw more playing time on both sides of the ball and were also honorable mention.”We feel pretty good about it,” Ramunno said. “The four seniors were kids who worked really hard. When they had a good game, we did well. And it’s great getting a junior on there.”
Last year Medsker was selected to the first team, while best was honorable mention.”It’s a pretty big honor,” Medsker said. “At the start of the season, I wanted to get all-league again and tried to get 1,000 yards (passing) and 1,000 (rushing), but that didn’t happen. And I wanted us to make the playoffs again.”Despite a slow start in the Slope , the Devils fought back and still had a chance to earn a playoff spot in their final game of the season.”It was nice that we still had a shot,” Medsker said. “We were a little bit frustrated (at the beginning of the year), but we were tired of losing and wanted to work hard to get some wins.”Head-onA quarterback is usually the default leader of a team, but Medsker put his personal touch on the position.”The kid is an natural-born leader, and he’s an animal,” Best said. “He lowers his head, makes a a hit and get the first down. It revs the team up.”Medsker gave credit to his offensive line for giving him time in the pocket and space to run.”It seemed like (other teams scouted us) a little bit, but our guys did a good job of picking it up,” Medsker said. “The offensive line was young, and it kind of showed in the beginning, but they stepped up a lot and got better.”
Ramunno, like any coach, didn’t want Medsker squaring up against offense lineman, and put him in the secondary.”He’s a strong kid, and can tackle well, too. It was good to see him get some action (on defense),” Ramunno said.Best had a much different perspective on offense this year at fullback, but didn’t change his style of play.”He’s a good lead blocker,” Ramunno said. “A lot of times, people said he made his own hole.””I hadn’t played fullback since my freshman year,” Best said. “I guess it kind of came back quickly, and it worked out.”On many short-yardage situations, the Devils gave the ball to Best, who often picked up the first down, and then some. Best filled holes and picked up big tackles on the defensive side of the ball as a lineman.UtilityDorothy has played just about every position on the football field, and excelled at each.
“(The award) is a good deal that shows that some of the coaches out there noticed what I was doing,” Dorothy said. “It was different from what I was used to playing, but it was fun showing I can play all the positions.”On offense, Dorothy gained plenty of yards and first downs with big runs and deep catches. Dorothy also returned kicks and punts, and had a pair of huge returns against Cortez to help the Devils come from behind to win, 26-21, at Homecoming. At defensive end, Dorothy disrupted opposing backfields and came up with numberous solo tackles.”I didn’t have to worry about pass as much at defensive end (as cornerback),” Dorothy said. “I liked it and I felt like I was a lot quicker than most tackles I went against. (Defensive end) isn’t the big-tackle position. It’s just forcing guys back inside to the linebackers to make big hits.”And it was Whitehead made those big hits at linebacker. Whitehead led the team in tackles, with close to 100.”I think it’s a good sign to have an underclassman (honorable mention),” Best said. “He knows what it takes to play at that level.”Whitehead saw plenty of time as a sophomore as well, and was among the leaders in tackles. This year on the ground, Whitehead earned his fair share of carries and picked up key yardage. “He’ll be one of the leaders on next year’s team,” Medsker said.VanVoorst led the team in catches, many of which were for long gains and touchdowns.”He was an outstanding receiver,” Ramunno said.
VanVoorst came up huge against rival Battle Mountain with a great catch in the back of the end zone on third-and-19 to put his team ahead. On defense, VanVoorst stuffed opposing receivers and had a few touchdown-saving tackles.”He did a good job on defense.” Ramunno said.MemoriesAlthough the Devils went 3-5 in league and 3-7 overall, the big wins seem to outweigh the close losses.”We had a lot of tough losses – to Delta by one, we lost to Roaring Fork in overtime, and in our first game against Summit, we kind of blew it,” Dorothy said. “A few different things could have gone our way. But the wins that counted the most, we seemed to get. It’s awesome to say we beat (league champs) Steamboat, won Homecoming after being down for a bit, and beat Battle Mountain – that’s something you’ve gotta do.”Medsker has the same trio of favorite memories from the season.”I’d say it’s our three wins – there’s nothing better than winning a game,” Medsker said.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.