Vail Christian falls to Plateau Valley |

Vail Christian falls to Plateau Valley

Ian Smith
Vail, CO Colorado

PLATEAU VALLEY, Colorado ” Give the Vail Christian football team credit. Despite falling behind 18-0 in the first half, the Saints didn’t give up.

Vail Christian outscored Plateau Valley 14-7 in second half, but the Cowboys were able to hold off the Saints, 25-14, in both teams’ season opener.

“Plateau Valley was big and physical,” Vail Christian coach Tim Pierson said. “They played hard. Their running backs did a good job of keeping their legs going.”

Plateau Valley took a 6-0 lead when it connected for a touchdown pass on their second drive of the game. Unfortunately for the Saints, their offense couldn’t answer. First-game jitters and missed-blocking assignments contributed to Vail Christian’s lack of offense in the first half.

“We had some blocking assignments to work through,” Pierson said. “They came hard off the ball and they were coming fast.”

The Cowboys continued to build their lead in the first half by taking advantage of good field position. When the teams went to the break, Plateau Valley held a 18-0 lead.

It didn’t take long for Vail Christian to find its groove in the second half. Senior A.J. Burgess took matters in his own hands in the third quarter. Twice on the same drive, Burgess converted fourth downs on fake punts. On the second fake, Burgess sprinted in from 50 yards out for the first Vail Christian touchdown of the day.

The Saints defense also stepped up in the second half, keeping the team in the game.

“Defensively, we played real well,” Pierson said. “We forced two turnovers. We recovered a fumbled and Elliot Simon got an interception.”

Simon’s interception set up the Saints’ second TD of the game. Elliot Ristow took a counter play down to the Plateau Valley 2-yard line. On the next play, Simon connected with Chris Schmidt for a TD. Simon ” only a sophomore ” called an audible on the scoring play.

“He’s a competitive kid,” Pierson said. “He plays with a lot of passion. He doesn’t like to lose. He is competitor.”

Burgess led Vail Christian with 95 yards on the ground on only five carries. Ristow added another 43 yards. Defensively, Kieran Hurtt recorded 12 tackles for the Saints.

Even with the loss, Vail Christian saw some positive signs in its first game. The offense came alive in the second half, and the defense held Plateau Valley to 25 points ” no small feat in 8-man football.

“I think if we played them again later in the season, we’d get them,” Pierson said. “They were the better team today. They executed better than we did.”

The Saints are back in action Saturday when they host Silver State Christian at Hot Stuff Stadium in Gypsum at 3:30 p.m.

Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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