Three if by air? Saints football get postseason honors
EDWARDS – Please name the state’s leading 8-man football passing game.
That would be your Vail Christian Saints. Vail Christian led the state in completions, passing yards and yards per game through the air.
And that’s reflected in the Saints’ all-league selections. Quarterback Austin Ellsworth, running-back Mack Cooper and Cole Caynoski, better known for his defense, but also a wide receiver, made the first team.
Branden Currey, Chase Caynoski and Sean Ryan are honorable mention.
Yes, 8-man football is about running the football early and often. But Saints coach Tim Pierson can only play the cards he’s dealt – meaning that running toe-to-toe with teams like Dayspring Christian and Hoehne, who meet in next week’s state title game, will simply not work – so Vail Christian relied on the pass and its speed.
And said philosophy put the Saints over .500 with 5-4 overall record and a 3-2 mark in the Central League.
“We need to continue to find ways to be more productive with our offensive strengths,” Saints coach Tim Pierson said. “We do not have the 200-pound lineman that you find on the Eastern Plains. I love that we have four different receivers with 15 or more receptions on the season – Branden, Mack, Clayton Davis, and Cole.”
Ellsworth completed 108-of-185 passes for 1,507 yards in 2011. Those numbers lead the state. His 17 touchdown passes tied with Chase Dunker of Sedgwick County for tops in Colorado.
Ellsworth also threw eight interceptions, but we only bring that up because he returned the favor by nabbing four interceptions as a corner back on defense.
Vail Christian was not completely pass-happy. Cooper ran the ball 74 times for 596 yards. That’s a “respectable” 8.05 yards per carry. Cooper was dual threat out of the backfield with 25 grabs for 366 more yards.
Cole Caynoski had 16 catches for 214 yards, very good numbers, but he’s turning into one heck of a defensive player. He recorded 48 solo tackles and 19 assisted ones.
And if you’re scoring at home, Vail Christian’s first-teamers are a junior, a junior and a sophomore, respectively. We think Pierson’s ready to start football season this week, though boys basketball coach Sheldon Kuhns might object.
Moving to honorable mention, it was clear that Ellsworth enjoyed throwing the ball to Currey. The sophomore was third in the state with 30 catches and fifth with 515 yards of receiving. By the way, Currey’s good on both sides of the ball with 50 tackles.
A team cannot have a passing game without a little time. The four above can thank the likes of seniors Sean Ryan and Chase Caynoski.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.
Attention football fans
By league rules, we cannot write about 3A football postseason honors because Palisade made the semifinals of the playoffs Saturday. Fear not, we will get to Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley’s honorees when appropriate.