The best of the West |

The best of the West

You know you’ve done it.

Wouldn’t it be cool if Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley and the Vail Mountain School soccer teams formed one squad? Take Cesar Castillo from Eagle Valley, Jair Molina from Battle Mountain and Tony Ryerson of VMS and put them together. We’re pretty sure that coaches Jason Rittmiller, David Cope and Bob Bandoni would be playing in a 3-4-3 with these guys.

We’ve done you one better. The media of Western Colorado ” the Vail Daily, Glenwood Post-Independent, Grand Junction Free Press, Steamboat Pilot, Craig Daily Press, Cortez Journal, Montrose Daily Press and the Durango Herald ” got together to make the 2007 All-Western Colorado Soccer Team.

Having tried to put together a team with all these schools from this side of the state, not to mention from 3A VMS to 5A Durango, we have a greater appreciation for what coaches in every sport every season do with regard to postseason honors.

In some cases, the writers and the coaches agreed ” Castillo was the Player of the Year. In other places, the two groups diverged. The writers went with Battle Mountain’s Cope as Coach of the Year, while Eagle Valley’s Rittmiller got the nod from his peers.

It’s the stuff of good debate, though there’s no debating that Eagle County is ripe with soccer talent.

Castillo and Battle Mountain’s Molina, Marco Ordono and Connor Tedstrom made the All-Western Colorado Team, coached by Cope. Vail Mountain’s Ryerson and Chris Woods, as well as Eagle Valley’s Adrian Aguilar are on the second team.

Easy and making it look easy

When you have 26 goals and 12 assists like Castillo did in 2007, it’s not too hard to select the junior as the region’s best player. But what really was impressive about Castillo was the way he raised his game and his team.

Having scored 25 times his sophomore year, Castillo’s challenge was to make an impact in the big games. While he did pound the weaker teams, he also scored big goals against the league’s traditional powers ” Battle Mountain, Steamboat Springs and Glenwood Springs.

Teams naturally sat on him and he was able to create time and space for his teammates. Most telling was that Castillo had the assist, not the goal, during the team’s game-winning tally in Glenwood to clinch a state playoff berth. (Our trivia question is who scored that big goal? The answer comes later.)

Many people in this part of the state wish that Castillo were graduating this spring, and that crowd certainly includes the Coach of the Year, Cope. While he has built a dynasty with Battle Mountain soccer ” 2007 was the school’s fourth straight 4A Slope title ” this was probably his best coaching job.

Four in a row usually gets you this award, but the 2007 Huskies were missing the senior leadership which is usually the bedrock of Cope’s teams. The coach deftly kept the Huskies together through, pardon the expression, copious injuries, red cards and discipline issues without skipping a beat on the pitch. Battle Mountain went 11-0-1 in the 4A Slope, and the draw was with Eagle Valley on a Castillo goal.

Usually, the complaints in Eagle-Vail about Cope is that the coach tends to start seniors instead of younger players. Cope turned this theory on its ear in 2007, going with youth early and often and eventually starting six sophomores in the second round of the state playoffs against Golden.

Huskies’ honor roll

Two of those sophomores made the writers’ first team in Tedstrom and Molina. Tedstrom is the Western Slope’s defensive equivalent of Castillo. He led the youth movement at Battle Mountain.

Having started three playoff games in 2006 in place of the injured Tony Seibert, he was more experienced than most sophomores this year, but Tedstrom played like a senior. He’s big and smart and has two more years with the Huskies.

The Huskies have never lacked for offense and Molina ended up tied for the team lead in goals with Rudy Solis. Molina was Mr. Consistency all year with the requisite big goals against Glenwood and Steamboat.

While Molina was scoring, it was Ordono’s job to shut down the opposing team’s top threat. The junior midfielder, who comes over from Vail Christian, did just that, including blanking Golden’s Cullen Siewart (21 goals) in the second round of the playoffs.

Tough calls

Making 11 players from 10 different schools fit into a regional first team makes for some difficult decisions. The locals on the second team made this an agonizing process.

With 15 goals ” including five game-winners ” Ryerson clearly could have played for any team at any classification. He was an emphatic answer to the Gore Rangers’ biggest question in 2007 ” could they finish scoring opportunities?

Woods and David DeLine were the captains for VMS’ turnaround and also the anchors of the defense in East Vail. While both made the 3A coaches’ team, we just ran out of space. (The writers’ team plays out of a unique 4-3-3 formation. Don’t ask.) Like comparing fine vintages of Bordeaux, it was Woods by a hair.

It was the same situation in Gyspum with defenders Aguilar and James McGoodwin, with the former getting the nod. By the way, it was Aguilar who sent the Devils to the playoffs on a pass by Castillo.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or

The awards

All-Western Colorado Boys Soccer Team

First Team

F ” Jair Molina, Battle Mountain

F ” Cesar Castillo, Eagle Valley

MID ” Marco Ordono, Battle Mountain

D ” Connor Tedstrom, Battle Mountain

Player of the year ” Cesar Castillo, Eagle Valley

Coach of the year ” David Cope, Battle Mountain

Second Team

F ” Tony Ryerson, Vail Mountain

D ” Chris Woods, Vail Mountain

D ” Adrian Aguilar, Eagle Valley

4A Western Slope Coaches’ All-League Team

First Team

Cesar Castillo, Eagle Valley

Trevor Grayson, Eagle Valley

Connor Tedstrom, Battle Mountain

Jair Molina, Battle Mountain

Davey DeChant, Battle Mountain

Player of the Year ” Cesar Castillo, Eagle Valley

Coach of the Year ” Jason Rittmiller, Eagle Valley

Honorable Mention

Adrian Aguilar, Eagle Valley

James McGoodwin, Eagle Valley

Gonzalo Gomez, Eagle Valley

Charlie Tedstrom, Battle Mountain

Ricky Luevanos, Battle Mountain

3A Western Slope Coaches’ All-League Team

First Team

Tony Ryerson, Vail Mountain

Chris Woods, Vail Mountain

David DeLine, Vail Mountain

Carder Lamb, Vail Mountain

Rubin Saucedo, Vail Mountain

Honorable Mention

Jackson Higgins, Vail Mountain

Sean Minett, Vail Mountain

CHSAA All-State

Second Team

Cesar Castillo, Eagle Valley

Connor Tedstrom, Battle Mountain

Honorable Mention

Chris Woods, Vail Mountain

David DeLine, Vail Mountain

Rocky Preps All-State

Honorable Mention

Cesar Castillo, Eagle Valley

Connor Tedstrom, Battle Mountain

David DeLine, Vail Mountain

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