Three Eagle Valley players named all-league
Vail, CO Colorado
GYPSUM, Colorado ” The Eagle Valley football team likely played the toughest schedule of any team in Colorado to open the 2008 season.
Don’t believe it? Look up the numbers.
The Devils’ first five opponents finished the year with a combined record of 58-6. Olathe and Glenwood Springs both claimed state titles ” Olathe in 2A and Glenwood in 3A. Faith Christian, Eagle Valley’s first opponent, lost to Olathe in the 2A semifinals. All things considered, Eagle Valley did well to finish the year 4-6 and with a record of 4-4 in league play.
“It’s was pretty tough,” junior Clayton Gerard said. “We were hoping to win our last five. We couldn’t give up on ourselves.”
The 3A’s Slope coaches recognized the Devils’ strong, comeback season by naming Harrison Neal, Gerard and John Crawford to the all-league first-team. Robert Padgett, Matt Morgan and Brian Carrillo earned honorable-mention selections.
Neal might have turned in Eagle Valley’s most memorable performance this season. Against Battle Mountain, Neal rushed for five touchdowns and 247 yards. Neal’s 4.6-40 speed helped him score on runs of 77, 66, 40, 30 and 18 yards.
The game highlighted Neal’s emergence as the Devils’ most reliable threat out of the backfield. Gerard, an offensive guard, credited Neal and the rest of the Eagle Valley backs for running hard this year.
“Every one of them just ran their heart out,” Gerard said. “They would always tell you how good you did, too.”
A couple of hard-nosed players closed out the Devils’ first-team selections. Gerard spent his time plowing holes from his offensive guard position, and chasing down running backs at defensive end.
Only a junior, Gerard will be back for Eagle Valley next season.
“I was glad that we had a guy that made it that’s going to return,” Ramunno said. “Clayton is a hard hitter. A lot of blocks he made, it made our plays go.”
Crawford was no stranger to clearing paths for the running backs. From his fullback position, Crawford led the way for a number of touchdowns. When Eagle Valley needed to pick up one or two yards, Ramunno often called Crawford’s No. 42.
In short-yardage situations, it helped that Crawford was freakishly strong. Before the season, he squatted 435 pounds three times in the weight room. That same strength also helped him become one of the leading tacklers on defense.
“John was solid for us for two years at the linebacker position,” Ramunno said. “He was one of the top tacklers on our team this year. He was a team captain as well.”
Skill guys get it done
Besides Neal, Crawford and Gerard, three Eagle Valley skill-position players were named honorable mention. Matt Morgan utilized both his leadership skills and ability to escape trouble to be a solid quarterback for the Devils.
Eagle Valley doesn’t go to the air often in Ramunno’s offense, but when it did, Morgan was effective. In the Devils’ 44-21 Homecoming win versus Delta, Morgan threw for 141 yards and a touchdown. A week later against Montezuma-Cortez, he notched 76 yards passing for one touchdown, and two rushing scores.
“Matt Morgan made it as a leader,” Ramunno said. “He did some good things running the ball for us.”
Morgan’s favorite target with his passes was Padgett. In the Cortez game, all of Morgan’s passing yards went to Padgett. Besides offense, Padgett also made his mark on defense as a three-year starter at defensive back.
“He got some big interceptions for us,” Ramunno said. “He did a good job on both sides of the ball.”
Carrillo wasn’t the biggest guy on Eagle Valley, but he undoubtedly made the most thumping hits. He delivered his blows from the safety position and on special teams. On offense, he did well running reverses and rushed for 125 yards against Battle Mountain.
“Every game you can go through, there’s a hit Brian put on a kid that you have to replay and watch again,” Ramunno said. “When he got healthy, he ran the ball well and did a good job at safety.”
Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.