Vail Christian Saints football tops Manual in overtime
DENVER — Progress, definite progress.
Vail Christian finished its second season of Class 1A 11-man football with a 22-14 overtime win at Manual on Friday, Oct. 27.
The Saints finished 2017 with a two-game winning streak. After a 1-8 season last fall, this year’s Saints not only finished 3-6, but also recorded two wins within the very tough Foothills Conference, which will be sending three of its six teams to the postseason.
“It’s just great for our eight seniors,” Saints coach Tim Pierson said. “They played great tonight. It’s nice to get that second league win. We’ve been close to it. It’s just been a matter of putting together a whole four quarters.”
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Manual’s Masiah Hudson entered Friday’s game as the leading rusher in Class 1A with 1,481 yards in eight games. Not surprisingly, he put the Thunderbolts on the board with a rushing touchdown.
Vail Christian had its answer as Tom Engleby’s 80-yard run set up his 8-yard scoring run. Engleby hit Sal Gonzales for the 2-point conversion and, surprisingly, no backflip was involved.
The Saints took a 14-6 lead during the third quarter on a 1-yard plunge from Jake Nowicki. Jack Powers on a counter for 43 yards helped set that up. This was a new wrinkle for the Vail Christian offense as the Saints ran out of both the single-wing and spread formations.
The host Thunderbolts tied it up in the fourth quarter, and Vail Christian came close to scoring at the end of regulation before a fumble ended that hope. The Saints would get it done in overtime.
Vail Christian needed just one play from the 10-yard line, a 10-yard pass from Engleby to Joseph Emmer. The two did the same on the 2-point conversion.
The Saints defense stuffed Manual on four downs — two runs and two passes to ice the victory.
And give it up for the Blue Crush defense. It contained Hudson, a huge part of the win.
“We played great team defense,” Pierson said. “He broke one long one, but the defense settled down and played great pursuit defense. They kept corralling him and doing a good job of gang-tackling.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.
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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.