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Some questions about the fall

I hated high school so much.

So, I’m amusingly surprised that I’m starting my 11th year of covering Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley, Vail Christian and Vail Mountain.

Truth be told, I love high school sports. I can’t tell you how many times I go into a game or a season, thinking I know what’s going to happen and am completely wrong. I’ve written it before, but high school sports is like having your favorite book that always has a few extra pages left in it.

And as opposed to San Francisco University High School from 1986-1990, the girls actually want to talk to me and the jocks don’t beat me up.

With Devils and Huskies golf teeing it up for tryouts Monday, we’ll ponder some questions for the upcoming fall sports season.

– Repeat? While I might have botched my pick for the Eagle-Valley Battle Mountain football game last year, I’m safe with this prediction. Huskies cross country is going to be very good. With all but Colt Nelson returning from a state-title team last year, I’d be shocked if The Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News don’t rank the Huskies’ boys team No. 1 in 4A.

All the pieces are in place for a repeat. I’ve seen Huskies running all over the county this summer. Jonny Stevens and alum Shea Phelan were running by the Vail Daily Friday evening before I started writing this column. It’s going to take a lot of work, and coach Rob Parish will see to that, but mark down Oct. 27 ” the state meet at Harrison High School in Colorado. By the way, the ladies, state champs in 2005, will also be a force with which to be reckoned.

– Repeat II? While Battle Mountain was the unquestioned queen of the court last year, Vail Christian made its first state-tournament appearance at 2006. Senior Jackie Parker leaves big shoes to fill, but coach Cathy Alexander has built a program in Edwards, and the Saints will be tough to beat in the 1A Mountain League.

– Repeat III? While the cross country team is going to be the big dog on campus, Battle Mountain boys’ soccer may be the most intriguing story. The Huskies are going for a four-peat in the 4A Slope. Think about it ” every kid in Eagle-Vail has known nothing but winning to the tune of a 34-2 league mark the last three years. To have the Class of 2008 go through high school with a league crown each year would doubtless be, in coach David Cope’s words, a tremendous accomplishment.

It’s not going to be easy since the entire Slope is sick of the Huskies winning, just as the league was with Steamboat four years ago, but league titles are becoming a habit for this crew.

– Repeat, IV? With Battle Mountain volleyball, likely not, as state champs. The 2006 season was one of the years that all the cosmic tumblers fell into place. It would be unreasonable to expect the Huskies repeating. That having been said, while Brian Doyon’s crew was hit hard by graduation, Devon Abbott, Kori Landauer and others are back. You’ve also got to figure that members of last year’s bench and JV team could have started for others teams in the Slope, and gained a lot of experience playing against the starters in practice last year. The Huskies should be very competitive in league play.

– Consistency? Eagle Valley football was maddeningly inconsistent last year. The Devils beat league champion Steamboat on the road and were two points short of Summit, a result that looked a whole lot better in November than it did in Week 1. On the other hand, Eagle Valley is probably still kicking itself for the loss at Delta.

These are the marks of a young team. Look for the Devils to use these experiences to improve in the deep 3A Slope in 2007. By the way, I think Miguel Holguin is one heck of a kicker.

– What now? While 4-6 was a disappointing season in Gypsum, the Huskies were pleased with the same record. Can Battle Mountain football continue the trend in 2007 under new coach Jason Sedlak? One thing’s for sure ” teams won’t take the Huskies lightly this year. Replacing big guys like Mitch Gray, Punky Carlos and Jamie Hijmans is the key.

– Health? I swear I’ve written this every year since 2003. Will Vail Christian’s 8-man football team stay healthy? The talent is there. In the spirit of healthiness, I will try not to get a bloody nose at a Saints game this year, unless Bob Isbell hits me with my 5-wood.

– Hail Cesar? There is no question that Eagle Valley boys’ soccer is on the rise. The question is whether Cesar Castillo can take the Devils to the next level. He set the school’s scoring record as a sophomore last year, but 2007 is a new challenge for him. Castillo has to find a way to score against the league’s best sides ” Battle Mountain, Steamboat Springs and Glenwood Springs. If he can do that or create space and scoring opportunities for his teammates, the Devils will make a return trip to the playoffs.

– Dios mio? OK, that’s not a question. Vail Mountain soccer coach Bob Bandoni will definitely say Dios mio a few times this fall. The $64,000 question is can the Gore Rangers find someone, anyone to finish in the final third. This will determine whether VMS wears orange in 2007, not that we care about wins and losses in East Vail. They’re impostors.

– Surprise? No, it shouldn’t be. Look out for Eagle Valley volleyball. The Devils return their two setters in Whitney VanVoorst and Kelsey Foster. That’s a beautiful thing. Kills are nice, but the heart of the team is its setters. This is going to be good.

– How many? It’s not fair to ask Eagle Valley softball’s Elena Hernandez to throw no-hitters, although she had two last year. But with Hernandez back on the mound, the Devils have a solid anchor.

– Will Tony Romo recover? VMS volleyball coach Mike Garvey, also a Cowboys fan, is doubtless concerned about this. He should also have a pretty solid volleyball team as well. VMS played pretty well in its debut in the 2A Slope last year. Things are looking up at The Garven.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.


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