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Vail Christian football falls to Dove Creek

Bulldogs get playoff revenge

Taylor Shull and Vail Christian football are 0-1 after a 52-20 loss at Dove Creek on Friday night. The Saints open their Northwest League schedule next week against Gilpin County on Friday in Edwards.
Mort Mulliken | Daily file photo

Yes, it is comparing apples and oranges, but it is still apropos.

After two years of Vail Christian 8-man football with a combined 17-4 record, earning two playoff berths and Northwest League title, it’s important to remember it takes a bit for a group to get to that successful stage.

The Saints opened their 2020 season with a 52-20 loss at Dove Creek on Friday night.

Since everyone has been waiting for a football game upon which to chew and ruminate, there might be concern, anxiety and so on. Please remain calm, Vail Christian fans.

This is a pretty young team without much experience that can be achieved only by playing games which sometime may result in a lopsided score.

The reason the successful 2018 and 2019 teams are referenced is that, yes, they were, good, but it took 2016 and 2017 to get there. It is apples and oranges because four and three years ago, Jamison Lee, Chris Cappel and all those others who produced happy football memories took it on the chin in 11-man football.

There were times in 2016 and 2017 that it looked hopeless. It wasn’t. It got a lot better.

That does not mean the 2020 team is consigned to doom and all the trappings of a complete rebuilding process. In Dove Creek, the Saints were playing a playoff team from last season on the road after a seven-hour bus trip. The host Bulldogs were smarting from being eliminated in the postseason last year by Vail Christian and Dove Creek had a core of their experienced players returning.

Despite all those obstacles, the Saints erased a 12-0 deficit, scoring two second-quarter touchdowns to take a 14-12 lead.

“The kids fight with a lot of effort and they’re resilient,” Vail Christian coach Tim Pierson said. “Dove Creek got up on us, and, as a young team, they fought back.”

Vinny Nowicki started the comeback with a 6-yard touchdown dart to Tirin Cameron. Taylor Shull hit Nowicki for the 2-point conversion. For those of you scoring at home, Pierson said Nowicki and Shull will be sharing time under center.

On its next drive, Nowicki plunged in from 1 yard out for the first of his two rushing touchdowns. Dove Creek took over from there.

“When you have kids who work hard and want to learn, they’re new to the sport, you have lot of upside,” Pierson said. “It’s just a lot of little things that experienced players know. We can work on that and they’re willing to learn.”

Pierson mentioned things like moving one’s feet during contact and getting off blocks. Those are small things which become big things.

Pierson was happy with the play of his offensive line and also had kudos for junior Jesse Gonzales for a big kickoff return and Cameron’s game in general.

Vail Christian starts Northwestern League play by hosting Gilpin County on Friday night at 7 at Battle Mountain.


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