Vail Christian football kicks off on Saturday
Saints host Front Range Christian
Everything that’s old is new again.
It’s the return of 8-man football as Vail Christian hosts Front Range Christian on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Battle Mountain.
Not only is 8-man football serious football — never restart that bull-hooey — but it’s the laboratory of the game. The wildcat formation, the jet sweep, and the spread? We saw all of that in 8-man 20 years ago.
Where else are you going to see the single wing on offense and 2-3-3 defensive formation? Welcome to Vail Christian football in all its glory.
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And, yes, the Saints are shooting for glory. They went 7-3 overall and 4-2 in the Slope, making the playoffs last year.
Jamison Lee returns for his senior season at quarterback and that is always a gift to a football team. Lee ran for 1,055 yards and threw for 506 last year.
And Jamo, as he is known on the gridiron or the basketball court, will be running the single wing in all its resplendence. Coach Tim Pierson calls it the KISS Theory. Since this is a parochial school, that stands for keep it simple silly.
“Don’t beat yourself,” Pierson said. “We want to run the football. We want to establish the run to set up the pass. We’ll spread the ball evenly. This offense, there’s discipline required and everyone has an assignment. Execute and don’t get too cute.”
And, in simplicity there is beauty. Like its sibling, the double, run by Eagle Valley, Rifle and Battle Mountain at various points with great success, it’s not overly complicated, but very tough to stop.
The run-pass option, the spread, and other trendy attacks are prettier but more difficult to execute, and sometimes struggle out on the Slope.
Chris Cappel is the running back with Micah Sharpe at fullback. The offensive line is John Pavelich, Eddie Palacio, Slater O’Brien, flanked by tight-ends Simon Nowicki and Andrew Stojkovich
The defense will probably determine how far the Saints go in 2019. Of course, 8-man football can get wide open, but Vail Christian outscored its opponents, 426-381, in 2018. That’s a lot of points for 10 games.
To that end, coach Dan Mysnyk has been tinkering with some defensive packages.
“We want to be aggressive and to attack,” Pierson said. “We want to dictate to opponents and be more aggressive defensively.”
Vail Christian will rotate Pavelich, Sharpe, O’Brien, and Palacio through the two front spots on defense. The middle linebacker is Cappel, while the outsides are Nowickis, Simon and Vinny.
The corners are Stojkovich and Andrew Flynn with Ryan Downey at safety.
Meet the Slope
West Grand is the big kahuna in the league until someone proves otherwise. The Mustangs entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed, falling to Pikes Peak Christian in the quarterfinals. If this sounds familiar, Pikes Peak ended the Saints season in the previous round.
Reports of Rangely’s demise were apparently premature. The Panthers beat up Norwood last week, 46-28. If there is good news in the league it’s that Soroco’s Jace Logan graduated. Logan ran for an astonishing 2,507 yards in nine games and scored 44 touchdowns.
The Saints had a memorable 74-66 win over Logan and the Rams last year but probably aren’t sorry he’s graduated.
New for Vail Christian in 2019 is that the Saints will be hosting Gilpin County on a Thursday night, the first football game on that day of the week in school history. Both Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley are home that week forcing the date change.
There is no word if Jim Nantz and Tony Romo will be in attendance for “Thursday Night Football.”
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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.