Pioneers’ football team battles through adversity
Cripple Creek-Victor was short-handed in its 8-man football game against Pikes Peak Christian on Sept. 13. But the Pioneers were full of spirit to the last play, despite being on the wrong end of a 50-0 score.
“I think overall the guys did a great job,” said first-year Pioneers coach Jordan Buss. “We’re going in the right direction. We have to keep pushing forward; not giving up and staying strong.”
CC-V was without the services of several starters who were ineligible due to academic reasons. The Pioneers suited up just 12 players. The majority of those wearing CC-V blue and white never left the field of play.
“We had a lot less breathing time on the sideline,” said CC-V quarterback/middle linebacker Scott Cain. “I was lucky. I got several breaks, but Cody (Rice) and Toby (Wuellner) played a lot and didn’t get a lot of breaks.”
Cain added that the makeshift lineup may have been a reason for the team’s sloppy play at times.
“We had a lot of new guys out this week,” he said. “I’m not going to say it was a catastrophe, but it wasn’t pretty, either.”
The score was already lopsided by halftime as Pikes Peak Christian (3-0) rolled to a 30-0 lead. The Eagles pushed it to 44-0 with 3:21 remaining in the third quarter on a 35-yard touchdown run by Michael Braithwaite.
Braithwaite’s score initiated the running clock, which occurs in Colorado when a team trails by 40-or-more points at any point in the game.
Braithwaite scored the final touchdown of the evening on an 87-yard run with five minutes remaining in the fourth. Offensively, CC-V moved the ball effectively at times, but costly miscues (interceptions, fumbles, turnovers on downs) deep inside Pikes Peak Christian territory kept the Pioneers off the scoreboard.
“We have to get the chemistry down,” Cain said. “We had new guys coming in for the first time, like Parker (Theisen) and Dustin (Theisen). This was also my first time playing with David (Burks).
The Theisen brothers, along with Burks, are skill position players (mostly slot backs and running backs) who are expected to see a lot of touches. Cain puts the ball in the air more than half of the time (he’s averaged more than 20 attempts a game) the Pioneers are on offense.
“We weren’t clicking tonight,” Cain said. “We tried to spread it out, but we just weren’t on the same page.”
Wuellner, a tight end, said that he needs to elevate his game.
“I know I need to run my routes harder,” Wuellner said. “I think we can bring this together. We just have to work together more as a team.”
CC-V runs an up-tempo spread offense with a lot of different formations. Freshman Conner Brown (a 5-3, 122-pound slot back) scored the Pioneers’ only touchdown this season; a 13-yard reception in the season opener against Elbert.
“Us being as small as we are we can’t power it up the middle as much as we would like to,” Buss said. “We have to do a lot of off-balanced stuff. Do different formations. Actually make the defenses think.”
Despite his team’s 0-2, Buss is encouraged that things will turn around.
“If we can take care of the small things and not give up the big plays, things will be different,” he said. “We should absolutely compete and get the scores a little closer.”
Pioneers assistant coach Mark Speckman is also encouraged by what he’s seen from his team.
“We have a good eight on the field at all times,” Speckman said. “The boys have a good attitude and they’re coming along.”
The heavy rains that pounded much of the Teller and El Paso counties last week finally let up on game day. But Pikes Peak Christian’s field was a quagmire. The slick green grass and standing water resembled more of a slip-and-slide.
“My shoes have got half the Atlantic Ocean in them,” Wuellner said with a smile.
There were concerns up until Friday morning that the Pioneers might not be able to make it down Ute Pass. Highway 24 had been shut down near Manitou Springs on several occasions last week. The team was prepared to go the long way around - about a two-and-a-half-hour drive through Canon City. Pikes Peak Christian usually plays its home games on Saturday afternoons. But because last Friday was its prom, school officials rented eight sets of construction lights that properly illuminated the field, located near the corner of Flintridge and Vickers.
Pikes Peak Christian fund-raised the $1,200 needed to rent the lights. The Pioneers hit the road again this week for a Friday night game at Swink.