Surprises abound in Week 1 |

Surprises abound in Week 1

Week 1 of the fall, high-school sports season did not disappoint.

There was more action on the fields and the courts than there was during the opening act of MTV’s “Music Video Awards Show,” last Thursday.

(For those of you who know me, that was quite the pop-culture leap.)

If you missed it – your bad – here’s the breakdown:

Big surprises

n I talked to Eagle Valley volleyball coach Karl Talcott in mid-August, and, well, he had reason for concern. His team had lost five of six starters from last year’s state-tournament team. No worries, Coach.

The Devils were simply stunning at last weekend’s Demon Invitational Volleyball Tournament. They swept 4A Jefferson, 5A Fruit Monument and 3A state-regular Denver Christian in pool play. And, if that wasn’t enough, the Devils took Glenwood Sorings to five sets, before losing to the Demons.

Trust me on this one. This was the most telling result of the weekend. As we progress through the season, watch how many teams take Glenwood – which is ranked fifth in 4A and led by the-larger-than-life Amber Sutherland – to five sets, much less win. Put Devils volleyball in the same category of “Up and coming teams to watch,” with Vail Christian football. More on the Saints later.

n Something must be in the water down in Gypsum. Devils soccer lost to 5A Thunderridge by just a goal, beat 4A Fort Lupton and thrashed league-rival, Roaring Fork, 7-0, for a 2-1 record at the Demon Invitational, soccer-style. The Devils squeaked into the playoffs last year. They’re likely a league contender this year.

n Vail Mountain volleyball is 0-4 after the Best of the West Tournament up in Moffat County. No, this shouldn’t really be a big surprise. We’ve just gotten spoiled by the last two years, when the team went 48-8 and had two state berths. You just have to remember that, despite winning this tourney last year, that VMS is a 1A school. This year’s edition isn’t a bad one. It’s merely mortal. The Gore Rangers will be in the hunt in the 1A Mountain League. Count on it.

n By the way, congratulations to VMS volleyball coach Mike Garvey’s sister-in-law, Jenny Zander soon to be Crownover, who’s getting married Saturday.

Pleasant surprises

n Battle Mountain volleyball finished the Best of the West with a 3-2 record and the consolation-bracket championship. Congrats to coach Brian Doyon and company. The Huskies have Summit Thursday at 6:30 p.m., at home I will say this until the cows come home – and I don’t exactly know the nocturnal habits of four-legged bovines – but stick together as a team, Battle Mountain. If there are no outside interferences, this could be a nice story to watch.

n Battle Mountain cross country is off and running. And, as a side note, I’m promoting this event like Don King – and I almost have the hair for it – the first home meet in the program’s history is in six days. It’s also open to the public, so, come and run with the Huskies and Rifle.

No surprises here

n Yeah, yeah. Eagle Valley’s John Ramunno didn’t know what to expect from his football team. Whatever. This is not a rebuilding year. As Eagle Valley’s 37-7 rout of Battle Mountain showed, they reload – not rebuild – in Gypsum.

This year will not be a cakewalk. For example, Eagle Valley calls on 3A Steamboat Friday and the Sailors are a handful. There’s also a roadie at Roaring Fork, which is returning everyone from last year, as well as tough trips to Gunnison and Hotchkiss. But, when all is said and done, look for more postseason football for the Devils.

n By the way, great new press box at Hot Stuff Stadium. And, while we’re on the topic, let’s hear it for the voice of the Devils, Scott Ruff. He’s one of my favorite three football PA guys, along with that young guy, Pat Phelan of Battle Mountain, and Vail Christian’s Steve “It’s a third-and-sorta-short-but-could-be-a-real-long-nine-and-three-quarters-yards-to-go,” Miller.

n It may be a surprise to some, but, if you’ve been watching Vail Christian 8-man football, it isn’t. The Saints rolled Longmont Christian, 34-0, to open the season. When you convert on fourth-and-28, well, that’s got to be a good sign.

n If it didn’t get enough press in Sunday’s Vail Daily, congratulations to the Saints D, which logged its first shutout. In 8-man, with the extra space, that’s an accomplishment. Call them the Blue Crush. (By the way, Bob Isbell, that is the closest I will ever come to becoming a Broncos fan. Niners forever.)

n The Saints are at Westland Christian Saturday. And for Vail Christian football’s No. 1 fan Linda Isbell – Allez les Saints!

Remain calm

n Battle Mountain soccer, shake it off. The Huskies ended the Alexander Dawson Tournament with an ugly 10-1 loss to Niwot. That game doesn’t mean squat. This young team will have its ups and downs, as all young teams do. Be like golfers – remember the good shots and forget the bad. (It should be noted that it’s easy for me to remember the good shots since they’re pretty rare.)

From this tournament, David Cope’s squad should remember that it nearly beat the team – Bullis (Md.) Prep – which beat Steamboat and won the tournament. And the Alameda game – a 6-2 win – was a thing of beauty. Take it out on Palisade on Thursday.

n Cheers to frosh Derek Byron for his two goals against Alameda, as well as Tyler Cole with his hat trick of assists. Oh, by the way, not too bad, Mr. Juan Barragon.

n For those who are not fluent in Bandon-ese, the concern with Vail Mountain is in back. A little faith, people. First, there’s a solid base there with experienced backer, Duncan Robinson, and Boozey in net. (For those not fluent in East Vail-lingo, that’s Michael Busenhart.)

Second, for the blue and orange faithful who have poor memories, a 3-1 loss to St. Mary’s last weekend isn’t too bad. Last year, VMS started with a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Battle Mountain and everyone was thinking about an 0-fer season. Last year didn’t turn out too bad, did it?

n As for the Red Sox, Bob Bandoni, I do not have the same confidence.

n The jury’s still out on Battle Mountain football. Eagle Valley was clearly the dominant team last Friday night. So you can’t really assess the Huskies quite yet. The Huskies were only outgained by 70 yards or so by the Devils. So they were moving the ball and the D had some good moments. Cutting down on the turnovers will be a big key.

n Note to self: Never again use the headline, “Come and watch us Friday.” That pumped up the Devils, who didn’t need any more pumping up last Friday.

n Plateau Valley comes to town Friday. Welcome back, Duane Butcher, former Huskies head coach.

n It was tough sledding for the Vail Christian volleyball team in Glenwood at the Demon Invitational. Like VMS up at Moffat, the Saints were swimming with some big fish last weekend. Cathy Alexander’s squad will improve on last season in the 1A Mountain League.

Chris Freud is the sports editor of the Vail Daily. He can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext 614 or via

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