Welcome back, everyone, and welcome to the restart
Even after 20 years, this is just weird, but happy restart.
Winter teams go out hard in December, and then just stop. Yes, CHSAA has adjusted its no-contact rules for the holiday season, but no games are still a shock for me.
Having grown up in California, every high school had a Holiday Classic of some form. That said, no games during the holidays mean that sports writers get a break and can visit their families, so I’m mixed on the concept.
Agree with the policy or not, Colorado coaches, however, share one feeling —that of overwhelming anxiety — when their teams return to action, starting Friday, Jan. 5 and during the ensuing weekend.
What the heck do we see as Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley, Vail Christian and Vail Mountain return to action?
• Well, well, well, the Huskies are 5-3 and 1-0 in the 4A Slope, having beaten Rifle in an early bird league special before Christmas. Though that’s only a one-game difference from last year — 4-4 with a win at Rifle on Wednesday, Jan. 3 — Phil Tronsrue’s team seems more balanced against a tough nonconference slate.
We will beat this with a stick until it’s dead and then stomp on it repeatedly some more because it’s the be all and end all of how this season’s going to go in Edwards — the Huskies must get production from the perimeter. I know that Devin Huffman is a great post player. Every coach in the league knows Devin Huffman can play.
Of course, there are times, you feed the big boy and let him carry you, but that only can happen if guys such as Baker Gentry, Qwahn Kent, David Caballero and Liam McKenny also contribute.
So far, so good, but remember that everyone plays everyone twice in the Slope and everyone in the league is going to try to force the Huskies in various schemes to beat them with someone not named Huffman.
That’s the challenge, gents, and it starts with Summit County at home on Saturday, Jan. 6.
• Vail Christian (4-1) faces a reverse-Huffman. The 2A Saints have the best backcourt in the county and I’d take Sebastian Moritz and Bryan Trujillo against anyone in the 4A Slope.
Vail Christian needs somebody, anybody inside to rebound and score a few points. Ethan Kuhns, Zach McKeever, E.J. Koller and Alex Hilty, welcome to the spotlight. It’s North Park on Friday in Edwards and then off to West Grand Saturday.
• Eagle Valley (2-8) could be the most interesting squad to watch for sports nerds like me because we have a grand experiment here. Can the full-court press, run-and-gun, 3-pointer-palooza work in Colorado?
Don’t question coach Chris Walls for doing it. After graduating 10 seniors, well, a team has to change. The Devils win-loss record isn’t pretty now, but they are going to surprise some people as the season progresses.
This system can wear down teams, as we’ve seen in the nonconference slate — Eagle Valley did get more competitive as it went through December. There are also going to be nights when the Devils get hot and ambush an opponent or two.
First up for the Devils is Summit on Tuesday, Jan. 9.
• Vail Mountain (1-4) opens against Vail Christian also on Tuesday. We’re belated on this, but we would have liked to have seen the Gore Rangers face off against the Huskies in December with coach Chris Hoevel matching wits against Dr. Phil. If I were officiating the game, then I would have T’d them both up in the first five minutes. Just saying.
On a basketball related note, congrats to VMS senior Finn Connolly on signing a national letter of intent to play at Rocky Mountain College in Montana. He’s a battlin’ Bear.
• Welcome back, Doug Bruce. The coach returns for his second tenure at the helm at Vail Christian. He inherits a darn good team that’s 6-0 this season.
What’s interesting about Bruce, Take Two, is that he’s finally got an offense. We’d always be writing here about how it would be just great it would be if his teams could score just score 40 points per game and the team’s corresponding win-loss record.
The Saints are fine here with plenty of firepower in Jesse Raitt, Brookelyn Kraft and Sarah Heredia.
• Both Battle Mountain (3-4) and Eagle Valley (2-8) likely face uphill climbs in the 4A Slope, but … The Huskies have a good corps of veterans who’ve been with the program and add one in Marti Schmidt. They could surprise. When I saw Eagle Valley last, coach Sam Bartlett seemed to think his squad was very close to a breakthrough. Time will tell.
We’ve got our first race of the season on Friday at Beaver Creek, a giant slalom. The stat of the season so far is 18, as in the number of racers Gore Rangers alpine coach Francois Nanin has out this year.
Depth in alpine is VMS skiing’ Achilles’ Heel. Gore Rangers’ Nordic is like death and taxes. It’s always going to be there. With depth and talent topping the alpine side, Michael Resnick, Shane Cole, Renata Alvarez and Alyssa Hilb, VMS could repeat.
Hockey and wrestling
Hey, I can’t be everywhere, so we’ll be seeing Huskies hockey for the first time on Friday — beat Aspen — and we’ll see everyone on the mat during Saturday’s Eagle Valley Invite.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.