We’re ready for some football | VailDaily.com
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We’re ready for some football

Daily file photo/Preston UtleyEagle Valley football emphatically states, "Ain't it great to be a Devil" after beating Battle Mountain last season. It should be a great to be a Devil and a Saint in 2008.
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All high school sports do two-a-days.

But taking nothing away from other sports ” remember from Wednesday’s column that soccer is my favorite sport to cover ” two-a-days mean football to me.

The cracking of pads, players drinking from hoses, coaches yelling at lineman during blocking drills to get their posteriors down. Those are two-a-days. (It should be noted that I have never heard Eagle Valley’s John Ramunno or anyone in the parade of coaches at Battle Mountain say “posterior,” but we’re a family paper.)



Yes, we are ready for the sacred ritual of Friday night lights (or the occasional Saturday for our fighting Vail Christian Saints.)

How ready? On Sept. 15, 2006, a Friday, I was back in San Francisco because my father’s memorial service was the next day. Our sports writer at the time, Ian Cropp, was being the good guy that he is and was there too to support my mom and I.



Nevertheless, we both excused ourselves at about 10 p.m. Pacific time, went to my parents’ living room and called our respective coaches, Ramunno and Pat Engle, to see how the Devils and Huskies did that evening. (Eagle Valley upset Steamboat Springs, while Battle Mountain lost to Delta, for the record.)

It is in everyone’s internal clocks ” players, fans, reporters and yes, the coaches. A few weeks ago, Mom came out from California, and wanted to see the schools we cover, so we were at Vail Christian. We stumbled into Saints head coach Tim Pierson and assistant Chris Gamble, sitting around a desk, likely drawing up what they hope will be magic in a few weeks.

Ramunno’s been thinking all summer. New Battle Mountain coach David Joyce has likely been jotting stuff down since he got the job.



But how will it all turn out come the end of October? Here are a few hints.

Devils

First question: What offense will Eagle Valley run?

Never mind. And, the funny thing is that every year I or whomever is covering Eagle Valley gets a call about how Ramunno should dump the double-wing.

No. No. No.

It’s a fantastic offense. No one else runs it and so it’s difficult as heck to prepare for.

Back to our regularly scheduled programing …

Eagle Valley went 6-4 overall and 4-4 in the 3A Slope last year, a very good season, but not good enough for the playoffs in an incredibly stacked league.

While there are copious turning points in a 10-game season, the Devils doubtless have to look back at Sept. 14 of last year ” Steamboat 34, Devils 27. Sailors quarterback Austin Hinder hit Nigel Hammond for 66 yards and a touchdown with six ticks left on the clock, as if Ramunno hasn’t already reminded his team of this already just three days into two-a-days.

That was the difference between making the playoffs and watching college football on TV during the first week of November.

Yes, Ramunno doesn’t have quarterback Hunter Blevins or running back Nick Whitehead, but this is a strong program with a set routine which can absorb those graduation losses.

It’s always tough to make the playoffs with only four guaranteed spots out of the Slope. You’ve got to figure that Glenwood Springs ” Dakota Stonehouse was only a junior last year ” and Palisade will definitely make it. That leaves some combination of Rifle, Steamboat, Moffat and Eagle Valley battling for two spots.

The Devils dusted Moffat nicely last year, and should do it again. The key is getting one either at Steamboat (Sept. 19) ” no motivation is needed ” or versus Rifle (Oct. 31) and they can punch their ticket for the postseason.

Eagle Valley must weather the storm early ” the season starts with at Faith Christian, at Glenwood, home for Palisade and at Steamboat, a stretch which is not for the faint of heart. Even at 1-3 at that point, the Devils can make it.

Saints

I say this every year, Vail Christian is due. The Saints must stay healthy. Seriously, what is it with Vail Christian?

Last year, Tim Pierson’s crew lost quarterback Larry Cavanaugh to a broken collar bone in the opener, and this was just the latest of some crushing injuries to hit the Saints the last few years.

The upside of Cavanaugh’s injury was that then-freshman Elliot Simon got valuable experience behind center. So Tim Pierson probably has a nice quarterback competition going between the two this year.

Now remember, versatility is the key in eight-man. I can see Cavanaugh at quarterback and young Simon at running back and a whole bunch of fun things coming out of the backfield ” either on the ground or by air.

The Blue Crush defense must find a way to cope with Chase Gruber’s graduation. Kieran Hurtt at nose tackle can go a long way toward that goal.

The Central League is wide-open this year. Silver State ran the table last year, but the Patriots were hit hard by graduation. The Saints lost tight games by a total of 15 points to the two other teams ahead of them ” Nederland and Maranatha ” last year, so look out for Vail Christian.

Huskies

It’s going to be a rough year. Tack this up on the board and please prove me wrong. I have covered only one winning football team since 1990 back when I was in college ” Vail Christian (2003). I’d love to be wrong here.

Battle Mountain desperately needs coaching stability, and Joyce comes qualified, but football programs don’t turn around overnight. As discussed before, the 3A Slope is a brutal league, and the Huskies haven’t shown that they can play with the big boys like Palisade, Rifle, Glenwood and Steamboat, not to mention Eagle Valley.

The Huskies need to survive an imposing start with road games at Summit County and Palisade and then the home opener with Moffat. Yes, Battle Mountain beat the latter set of Bulldogs two years ago, but unfortunately, Moffat likely still remembers that.

The key for Battle Mountain is gain experience within Joyce’s system and stick together no matter what. Cortez is coming here for Homecoming Oct. 3 and the Huskies close with Delta. If Battle Mountain can snag a few wins and start building its numbers for the future, it will have been a good year.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.


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