Vail Christian football readies for Dayspring
Saints head to Greeley for quarters
In theory, Vail Christian football is the favorite by seed when it travels to face Dayspring Christian in Greeley on Saturday at 1 p.m. during the state quarterfinals.
History says otherwise.
Whatever one calls the Saints’ league — Central, North or Northwest — whenever Vail Christian runs into the Plains League, things generally don’t end well.
Between the old crossover games and the state playoffs, the Saints are 1-6 against the Plains League, the preeminent conference in 8-man football, in the postseason.
The happy-happy-joy-joy moment in that 1-6 record was beating Merino, 38-34, back in 2014 at Phelan Field in EagleVail. The unfortunate coda to the story is Dayspring Christian beat the Saints the next week, 42-0, in Greeley.
That, boys and girls, was why Ethan Kuhns, Class of 2018, who was back home from Grand Canyon University in Arizona, jumped into the postgame huddle after the Saints beat Dove Creek, 66-30, last week during Round 1 to tell the team they were playing Dayspring.
Kuhns, a freshman on that 2014 team, was ready to suit up himself. Can we get Sug Ellsworth, Class of 2015, back from Creighton?
Think we’re joking about the Plains Conference being the SEC of Colorado 8-man? The last six state champions are from the Plains, including four straight from Sedgewick County, this year’s No. 1 seed. Look back and 10 of the last 12 — with Hoehne (Arkansas Valley) as the only interloper — state champs are from this league.
This is not to say that Vail Christian should spend Saturday afternoon cowering on the bus.
The common-opponents numbers are comparable. Byers plays in the Plains and Dayspring defeated the Bulldogs, 54-15, while the Saints blanked them, 66-0.
Both squads took care of Front Range Christian — the Saints won, 48-12, and the Eagles, 40-0. Vail Christian beat Rangely, 34-22, and Dayspring beat those Panthers, 52-0.
Dayspring passes more than the average 8-man team, so look for quarterback Christian Still. Senior Caden Bonnell is his favorite target with 42 catches for 522 yards.
Bonnell leads the Eagles with 90 carries for 879 yards. On the ground, also look for Still to call his own number as well as handing it to Garrett Krehbiel and Wyatt Eichman.
Around the state
The winner of Saturday’s game takes on the winner of Sedgewick County-Merino. Were Vail Christian to win this week, the Saints would host the semifinals.
Merino edged West Grand, 14-8, last weekend.
On the other side of the bracket, Pikes Peak Christian faces Sanford and Mancos plays Fowler.
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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.