Vail Valley preps: The to-do list for fall 2009 |

Vail Valley preps: The to-do list for fall 2009

Vail Daily file photoFall high school sports are upon us in Colorado's Vail Valley and Larry Cavanaugh (16) the Vail Christian Saints 8-man football team should be in the hunt for another Central League title.

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – New year, new fields, new gyms and new faces in new places in Vail Valley prep sports.

Just about everything seems fresh about the fall 2009 season, which got under way with golf tryouts Monday. Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain both crack the seals on new athletic facilities, while the Vail Mountain School seems intent on having its alumni conquer the local coaching world.

As practices begin, a look at what should be an intriguing fall.

We start with 8-man and the defending Central League champion, Vail Christian. Tim Pierson’s crew did take a hit from graduation, but quarterback Larry Cavanaugh’s back and so is Kieran Hurtt, who turned into a force in the trenches last year.

It’s hard to say who’s up and who’s down in the league, but the Saints should be in the hunt, and they should definitely be in the top four and that means cross-over play with the Plains League.

As the Saints learned last year in the season-ending 48-18 loss to Haxtun, it’s one thing to be good in the Central. It’s completely different when it comes to playing on the state level. That will be Vail Christian’s goal in 2009.

At Eagle Valley, we hear it every year. “The Devils lost too much. This is the year they’re going to be down.” Having observed from afar, you’ve got to remember there’s a system in place in Gypsum.

Yes, some kids are going to have to grow up fast in the next few weeks of camp and in the nonconference slate. Yes, it’s going to be difficult to make the playoffs as only three teams from the Slope are assured of postseason berths.

Palisade is the favorite until someone else proves otherwise. Steamboat Springs is probably in the second spot and then it’s Glenwood Springs, Rifle and Eagle Valley fighting it out for the third. Glenwood lost a lot of its state-title team from last year, but still should be good. Rifle is definitely getting creamed by the emergence of Coal Ridge, but the Bears have had the Devils’ number the last few years.

If Eagle Valley can survive the tough schedule early, the Devils have a chance of playing a very meaningful game in Week 10 at Rifle.

And that leaves some mixture of Battle Mountain, Delta, Montezuma-Cortez and Moffat County at the bottom of the deck in this tough league. Expectations are high that this could be the year for Huskies football.

I sincerely hope so, but we’re at the stage where Battle Mountain needs to win some games, turning the talk into results. If their health holds, the Huskies should be able to move the ball. The question since I’ve been here is whether Battle Mountain can stop other teams from doing so. (See last year’s 43-31 loss to Moffat.)

I’d love to see it, but playoff talk is a little much for this team. If the Huskies could take Delta, Cortez and Moffat along with Highland outside of the Slope for 4-6, it would be a superb season.

And if anyone’s interested, it’s Huskies at Devils on Oct. 30.

Battle Mountain re-assumes its role as the favorite in the 4A Slope this fall, and there’s a lot to like about the Huskies – goaltending (senior Clint Hervert), defense (led by seniors Connor Tedstrom and David Gonzales) and offense (everybody).

Everything’s there. Battle Mountain just needs to put it together with hard work. Steamboat Springs will be a challenge, and as we all learned last year, road games in Glenwood Springs are not fun. This really should happen this year.

Yes, Eagle Valley is the defending champion in the Slope, but graduation losses are too much here, and I’m not just talking about Cesar Castillo, but also guys like goalie Trevor Grayson. The Escobars remain, and so the Devils will still be in contention, but just not at an elite level like last year. The playoffs remain a possibility.

At Vail Mountain, Slade Cogswell – yes, that guy, Class of 2001 – starts his first season as head coach, while Bob Bandoni remains in the program as the technical director. (Insert your Red Sox or “disposition of one’s psyche” joke here.)

Yet the issue remains the same in East Vail since, say, Cogswell and Andrew Feldman played on the old pitch – who’s going to finish?

Continuing our jaunt through VMS’ alumni, Lara Bossow, who graduated from Vail Mountain in 2003 and was an assistant coach at Eagle Valley the last two years, takes over at Battle Mountain. Got that, everyone?

Tree, as she was known during her playing days, inherits a very solid team in what should be a wide-open Slope. But do not make the mistake everyone made last year in overlooking Eagle Valley.

The Devils blossomed as a program last year, winning the league and making regionals. They bring back Becka VanVoorst and Alex Lasse among others. Sept. 22 in Gypsum and Oct. 13 in Edwards when the Huskies and Devils get together will go a long way towards determining who sits atop the Slope.

In East Vail and Edwards, Vail Mountain is understandably a step or two ahead of Vail Christian in the process of getting used to the 2A Slope. VMS flashed its potential in a five-set win against Meeker last year. Mike Garvey’s crew just needs that consistency.

And whatever the standings say, mark your calendars for Sept. 29 as the Saints host the Gore Rangers for the first time in their true digs in Edwards.

At Eagle Valley, Jamison Bair and Bryan Brennan paved the way to state the last two falls. The question is whether Bryan Matthews, Chris Brubeck and/or Austin Fahrenholtz will follow in 2009?

As for Battle Mountain, you might want to check out Cameron Brown.

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

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