Vail Christian football prepares for title defense |

Vail Christian football prepares for title defense

EDWARDS, Colorado – Vail Christian football has always done things a little differently.

The obvious is that the Saints play 8-man. But it doesn’t stop there.

Earlier in the decade, former coach Bob Isbell had receivers and running backs receiving the snap, executing a version of the wildcat offense long before it got hot last season in the NFL. The Saints have run plays like the Phelan-ator and The Huzella (named for James, now an alum.)

There are two constants to Vail Christian football – change and the quest for a Central League title. The Saints accomplished the latter in 2008 and hope to defend with a no-huddle offense and a new 2-3 front on defense.

Nothing is ever dull when he Saints take the field.

New faces

After a season-opening loss at Plateau Valley (25-14), Vail Christian’s offense started scoring at the alarming rate of 47 points per game against the Central.

Vail Christian’s offense is in transition, so that production may be unreasonable to expect in 2009. Then again, who really does that two years in a row?

“We’ll have to throw the ball this year,” Saints coach Tim Pierson said. “Last year, we were really successful running the football. We’re still in a spread, but we’ll be a doing a no-huddle offense that’s new. We’re all over the field in different positions. Part of this is out of necessity. We have a lot of kids who have never come out for football, but who have the potential to be playmakers.”

The good news is that Larry Cavanaugh returns at quarterback. He’s got Steil Beagley in the backfield and Thomas Huzella, Zach Sforzo, Nigel Johnson and Matt Cooper could all play there.

Kieran Hurtt anchors the offensive line at left tackle. Combinations of Dan Schramm, Sean Ryan, Chase Caynoske and Ian Ryan will also help with the blocking.

Pierson has Teller Emmer at Tight end and is looking at James Curry at receiver.

As for the no-huddle?

“It’s definitely a lot of fun,” Hurtt said. “It takes discipline as a team to do it. I think it almost unifies the team more because we all have to be on the same page. Once the play’s done, we get the signal and line up again.”

Pierson has been pleased with the leadership of his seniors, and that will be on display on defense. Hurt is the middle linebacker in a new 2-3 scheme. This set is the 8-man equivalent of a 3-4 defense, which is intended to disguise the look of the Saints defense.

Schramm, Sean Ryan and Caynoske will rotate the tackles. Beagley and Cooper are the outside linebackers. Cavanaugh, Huzella and Ian Ryan will be in the secondary.

“We’re going to get the linebackers really involved,” Pierson said. “The defensive tackles will clog things up and the linebackers will swarm to the ball. We’ll also have the secondary in run support.”


The Saints have made the postseason the last two years and hope to make it a hat trick this season. While the Saints have some new faces in new places, the veterans of the team are drawing on their past experience.

“It gives us a certain standard we feel we can play to,” Hurtt said. “Having success last year makes us want to have more. We’re trying to translate the level of play we expect to the new players just the same way as it was passed to us last year.”

Vail Christian starts the season a week from today with a home game in Gypsum against Plateau Valley. The Saints then open Central League play at Silver State Sept. 12.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or

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