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Fall Sports Spectacular


Panthers Ready for Action

WALSENBURG–  The John Mall Panthers are rebuilding this season with new coaches, a new offense and new faces.  There are no seniors this season which makes this team less experienced than previous teams, but Coach Berger has made the necessary  adjustments.  The Panthers will field one of the smallest and youngest teams in recent years but that should not stop their desire and drive.  Their  inexperience will not quash their spirit.   According to Coach Berger, “Our kids have something to prove to people and we will show them we will be a good team.  Everyone has already counted us out.”

    Berger will bring a simplified offense to the team and build from that.  For now, it is back to the fundamentals of the game.  Leading the offensive charge this season will be sophomore Charlie Whitehead at quarterback.  He will throw to some familiar faces this season.  The Panthers will also look to Clayton Archuletta, Austin Jackson and Stewart Pino for their talent and leadership.  The Panthers are hoping their speed will compensate for their size this year.  Also, Whitehead could put on an aerial show this season because he is capable of throwing the ball downfield in an instant.

    Only twenty-five players showed up to practice on opening day.  The Panthers need to stay healthy, if they want to be competitive. The lack of depth on the bench can hinder the team’s chances of a competitive season if they are plagued with injuries. 

    The team’s greatest asset is the fact that most of the players have played with Berger before in one sport or another.  He has coached the little and recreational league system over the past five years, and he has been the assistant high school basketball coach.  These players are used to his system and have a strong desire to play for their coach.  Another attribute is the players’ commitment to one another.  In their early season practices, they are jelling as a cohesive unit.  With dedication like this, look for the Panthers to build on their inexperience in the early season and finish  the year in strong fashion.

     Berger has also put together a team of qualified assistants who will help him this season.  On the sidelines this season  will be Mike Whitehead, Joe Hibpshman, Tobias DeHerrera,  Cameron Martinez, Israel Armijo and David Harriman.

    Coach Berger was profiled in last week’s edition.

Redskins Gridiron Magic

LA VETA-  The La Veta Redskins are hoping to improve on their 5-4 season last fall by combining effort and teamwork this season.  Twenty-two players signed up to compete for a spot on the Skins team and according to coach Don Price, “We’re looking pretty good.”  Price will rely on Ron Ortivez at quarterback to lead the charge.  He is also looking to Franklin Geiser to contribute a lot to the team effort, but he added, “We will not focus on any one individual player.  We are working on a team concept.”  Price is excited about his offensive line and expects they will give Ortivez time to make the plays.

    One of the biggest obstacles facing the Skins this season will be the competition.  Hoehne is always a tough team to play.  The Farmers made it to the state semi-finals in the 2007 season.  This year the Redskins will face a newcomer to the ranks of eight-man football, the Sanford Indians, who dropped from 2A  football.  This could pose a problem for the Skins.  The Indians’ enrollment of 123 students allows them to compete at the eight-man football level, but they have a larger male student base to choose from which gives an advantage. 

    Barring injuries and counting on their speed, the Redskins should have a stellar season and provide their fans with plenty to cheer about.  The Redskins open their 2008 season on August 29 at 7 pm in Primero facing the tenacious Bulldogs. 

Meet Coach Price

LA VETA- Don Price has been involved with coaching all his adult life. As an Adams State graduate, Price began his tenure coaching  at Adams State from 1977-1982 and again in 1987.  Other than that, he has coached in every sport the Redskins offered.  He is also the track coach  and Athletic Director.  According to Price, “ he just wants his kids to have fun.”  This attitude and dedication to the community is what makes him an outstanding coach.


Can Lady Skins Repeat ???

LA VETA- The La Veta Redskins volleyball team is looking to repeat  last seasons state playoff berth under the direction of a new coach, Bree Lessar.  Lessar had worked as an assistant coach the past four years under retired head coach Trenda Howard, so the transition from assistant to head coach should not be difficult.  According to Lessar, “Nothing has changed.  We are still doing things as we have in the past.”  The Lady Skins lost  four seniors off last years team which finished 3rd at last years state volleyball tournament.  This year the road may be more difficult because La Veta has moved up from 1A and will be competing in the 2A ranks this season.  Their competition includes traditional powerhouses as Hoehne, Del Norte, Sargent  and other western slope schools in the Fishers and Tri Peaks leagues. They have not competed with most of these schools in regular season play, except for tournaments.  New districts and regional teams will give the fans plenty to cheer about this season. Also new on the bench is assistant coach Brandi Menegatti while Austin Wagner will be team manager. 

     The Skins will still pose a threat this season to everyone they meet as the team will bring to the floor a number of tall power hitters. Emily Moll, Shea Brgoch, Kristina Koutnik and Shelby Morgan are all outstanding outside hitters while Jennifer Miller will dominate the middle.  The hitting power of the group and their control to place the ball anywhere on the court will make them hard to defend.

    Coach Lessar has been preparing the team all summer. They hosted their own team camp in July and participated in the Colorado Classic Camp in Denver, where they trained and scrimmaged 65 teams from all over the state.  They fared well against some division 5A schools in pool play before they entered bracketed play, winning their bracket by defeating 2A and 3A schools.

     This year, the Lady skins goal is to bring home the championship trophy.  They were so close last year and the team felt they let the fans down. Everyone thought that was the year, but there are 22 members on the 2008 team who will disagree. This is their year and the Redskins are looking to once again dominate the net and take no prisoners. For the girls on the team, they have never seen a losing season.  Last years 22-2 season was the best record any La Veta team put up and this team is looking to improve on that.  The Redskins have been District Champions the past 4 seasons.  Being in a new district will give the fans an opportunity to see what true competitors these ladies truly are.

Meet Coach Lessar

LA VETA-  Coach Bree Lessar has been a part of the Skins winning volleyball team the past fours seasons as their assistant coach.  She is now prepared to take the helm and lead her Lady Skins to another winning season.  A graduate of Adams State, she moved to the area in 1999 getting a job at Grandote Peaks golf club.  In 2004, she was hired as the English and Social Studies teacher for the La Veta school district and immediately took on the role of assistant coach, working with the volleyball team. She believes her ladies possess a great deal of teamwork and the versatility they have will make them a force to be reckoned with.

     Lessar is married to Chad Lessar and has two children, Race and Thea.

Lady Panthers Take to the Net

WALSENBURG- The Lady Panthers are hoping to recover from a disappointing season last year and become a dominant contender for the Santa Fe League volleyball title.  They have a new coach, new attitude and new spirit which may propel them as the dark horse this season.  Thirty young women signed up on opening day to prove the Panthers should not be overlooked.  According to Coach Mike Vigil, the team lost only two starters from last year’s team.  “It was a young team back then and now we have eight returning seniors to lead this club.”  There will be enough players to field three teams: C (1st year players),   B (Junior Varsity) and A (Varsity) squads.  Coach Vigil feels the girls have a decent chance of surprising people this season.  He feels if they can learn to work together as a cohesive unit,  they will win.  His goal is to motivate the girls by working them hard every day and showing them how to be the best they can be.  He looks forward to playing the Redskins and league foe, Swink.  “If we can play them head to head, we can beat anybody.”

    Vigil feels that one of his  biggest advantages is not knowing too much about the team.  He plans on treating every member of the team equally. “We won’t consider ourselves as an A, B or C team.  We are one team.”  One of the commitments his ladies made was that the more experienced players will work with the less experienced.  Vigil said he recognizes the team has a lot of talent and he wants to show the players they are valuable.  Along with assistant coaches and former Panther Net superstars, Veronica Pedraza and Samantha Harriman, the team’s leadership has the experience to teach the others what it means to win. With a positive mental attitude and Vigil’s approach to coaching, the sleeping cats should awake with a thunderous roar and dominate their prey.

Meet Coach Mike Vigil

WALSENBURG-  Panther Volleyball Coach Mike Vigil’s coaching résumé exemplifies his commitment to the youth of Walsenburg.  Ten years ago, Vigil coached the Panther squad for four years before leaving to pursue other interests.  Those interests included working as assistant baseball coach for the past five years, coaching Warrior football the past three years, and running the Cal Ripkin Little League Program for four years.  When he’s not involved with kids, he is busy with work at C-DOT.  Vigil’s number one goal is to reaffirm to the youth of the community that they are valuable, and he wants to offer them a chance to improve themselves both physically and mentally.  He makes his home in Walsenburg along with his wife Sandra.  Their daughter Nakita is a sophomore at John Mall.  

Cross Country

Run Panthers Run

WALSENBURG- For the first time in fifteen years, the John Mall Panthers will offer crosscountry track as a fall sport.  Panther coach, Jacque Corsentino, will lead the team in what she hopes will become an alternative fall sport for the students.  According to Corsentino, “ I had kids come to me and asked me to coach the team.”  She also said these kids normally would not go out for the fall sport programs offered,  so she wanted to give them a choice.  Six  athletes are on the team and have already begun their training.   “There’s still room for anyone who wants to join us,” she said.  Cross-country runners compete on a course ranging in distance from two to five miles.  Usually three and a half  miles is the norm.  Five players are allowed to run but the top three are scored.  Winning scores are based on individual and team times.  Cross-country is not offered as a track and fields event in the spring, so this is an opportunity to teach endurance to the track stars.

     This sport almost didn’t happen.  There was some discussion at last week’s school board meeting about offering it.  Some members said, “it could detract from the football program.”  In the end, the board voted unanimously to offer CC as a fall sport on a trial basis.  According to Corsentino, “It wasn’t in the budget.  We have no money to pay the registration and fees for some of the events.  We must rely on fundraisers and donations.”  The schedule is not final but tentative plans are to travel to Rocky Ford August 30.  Members of the 2008 Panther cross-country team include Waylon Cordova, Shawn Dieckman, Michael Martinez, Melissa Mestas, Miranda Trujillo  and John Rodriguez.

Meet Coach Corsentino

WALSENBURG- Jacque Corsentino has been involved with kids for many years.  Her two sons, Ty and Justin Noga, have participated in John Mall sports.  She has been the track coach the past four years and has coached cheerleading the past three.  Her first-year pledge as cross-country coach is her affirmation to help the kids.  “It’s all about the kids,” she reiterated. “Not me.”  Jacque works for the school district office and is married to Lee Vigil.


Redskin Golfers Swinging Free

LA VETA- Even before the school year began, the fourteen members of the Redskin golf team have been burning up courses.  So far, they have played in three tournaments, and most of this experienced team have been playing all summer to gear up for the 2008 season.      Franklin Geiser’s patience on the links has paid off.  He, along with John Mall Panther Justin Eccher, spent much of the summer playing in the Pikes Peak Recreational League, on some of the toughest courses in Colorado Springs.  

    The La Veta team has captured a first-place finish along with a third-place finish.  In part this is due to the depth of duffers like Geiser and the Ortivez brothers, Ron and Adam, and the season is still young.   In his three tournaments, Geiser placed on top.     

    Coach Roger Brunelli, in his second year of coaching the golf team, credits their dedication to the game.  As a golf coach, there is no sideline game plan, no sending in the plays.  All Brunelli can do is advise his players “to play smart and not make any bad decisions when they are out there.”  Coach Brunelli also states that some of his other golfers, like Trent Holvik, Dalton Mason and Jon Brunelli can be in the money on any given day.  He feels when he selects any of the team members to play in a tournament, the Redskins will always fare well.  The competition in his fourteen-member squad to earn a spot and  play in the next tournament is fierce.  It must be earned.  To qualify, the number-four man usually shoots in the mid-eighties.  For those of you who don’t know:  That’s great!  The season lasts through mid-September, and based on early results, the team should place well at the state tournament.  The team has the tenacity of a tiger and will not give up strokes easily.

    When some members of the team are not on the fairways, they are on the gridiron doing two-a-days.  Geiser, the Ortivez brothers and Brunelli also play football.      

Meet Coach Brunelli

LA VETA-  Redskin golf coach Roger Brunelli has been a fixture in the La Veta community for the past twenty-eight years as a teacher then as  Re-2 Superintendent from 1983 through 2001 before retiring.  When he’s not  playing golf himself,  Coach Brunelli continues to be involved with the school, supporting the athletes and the kids.  Brunelli and his wife Cleo make their home in La Veta.  They have two grown sons, and grandson Jon is a member of the golf and football team this season.  

Panthers Set Links on Fire This Season

WALSENBURG-  The John Mall Panthers golf team is having fun.  They have already been in three tournaments so far this season and have been on fire.  Coach Lee Vigil has been working with the team, giving them tips on improving their game.  Members have been busy all summer, taking every opportunity to play and improve their game.  Their commitment to the game has paid off.  For the four team members, this season looks to be a great year.  Freshman Justin Eccher has already won a first place medal this year.  So has Greg Bobian who has only been playing two years.  Steve Rodriquez and Joe Martinez make up the rest of the team  and are scoring very well themselves.

     The team has strength in all of their players.  Newcomer Rodriquez missed the first three tournaments but  his game has been solid.  He has the capability of shooting in the mid-eighties which will contribute to the overall team score and may even win a few tournaments.  Martinez’s game has improved every year and he has dropped 11 shots off his round this year.  This long-ball hitter will bring in impressive scores by season’s end.        

    In high school tournament play, four team members play and the top three are scored.  For the Panthers, every player is capable of shooting in the mid-eighties or better which should put them in the money every time.  The Panthers are competing in the 3A class this year, facing schools their own size.  Last year, Vigil said, “we were 4A and faced kids from the larger schools whose players were all par golfers.”

     According to Vigil, “I want my kids to get out there and have fun.  If they make a mistake, they can pick it up on the next hole.”  John Mall will host an invitational tournament on September 5.  So far, twenty-one teams are committed which makes this one of the largest tournaments of the season. 

    Assisting Coach Vigil is Fred Martinez, Joe’s father.  Vigil states that this will be a good year for the team and is looking forward to seeing his team be very competitive.   


Meet Coach LeeVigil

WALSENBURG-  Coach Lee Vigil has been involved in sports his entire life.  A standout football and track star at Aguilar High School, he brings his enthusiasm and desire to teach to every team he coaches.  He is in his third year as golf coach and fifth year as Panther track coach.  He is also involved with third, forth and fifth graders in a recreational basketball league.  He makes his home in Walsenburg, along with his wife, Jacque Corsentino.  Lee is the maintenance supervisor at the Walsenburg Care Center.

Huerfano Open this Weekend

HUERFANO-  Several teams have already signed up for the Huerfano Open golf tournament this weekend.  Tournament play begins with the 1st and 2nd flights playing at the Walsenburg Golf Course while the 3rd and 4th flights tee off at Grandote Peaks.  On Sunday, the order will be reversed.  This year’s format is a two man scramble with  handicap scoring.   There is still room to sign up, but entries must be received at the clubhouses by 4 pm Friday, Aug. 22..

Warriors Victorious

WALSENBURG- The Walsenburg Warriors Youth football team kicked off their season on Sun. August 17 with a pair of victories.  The fifth and sixth grade team opened the season on a sour note as the Warriors kicked off to the Panthers and the ball was immediately returned for a touchdown.  The Warriors sprang back with a score on the next possession.  Destry Crockett scored both the touchdown and extra point that quickly followed.   Crockett  scored again with  a long run, putting the Warriors ahead for good. The extra point was scored by Javier (Buddy) Romero. Soon after, Warrior  Kyle Brooks ran it in for another 6 points.  The Warrior′s defense held the Panthers scoreless the rest of the half, and they went into the locker room leading 20-6 at the half.

    The Warriors wasted no time in the 3rd quarter as  Kristopher Martin ran in a touchdown.  The point after failed and the Warriors led 26-6.  The Warrior defense came up with an interception as Chris Ortiz ran the ball back for another score.  Brooks converted the PAT. After entering the fourth quarter with a 33-6 lead  Romero once again delighted the Warrior fans by running in another touchdown and extra point. The Warrior defense held tough and held the Panthers scoreless to win their first game 40-6.

    The third and fourth graders′ chance to show what they are made of came next. Despite having 14 of their players return from the previous year, the Warriors  are somewhat inexperienced.  They scored right away on an opening kickoff only to have the touchdown called back by a penalty.  Maintaining possession, the Warriors handed off to Trevor Warren who ran in the ball for a touchdown. The PAT was scored by Ronnie Ruiz. The Warrior defense was superior, holding the little Panthers scoreless. Closing out the first half was Warren running for another touchdown, and the Warriors went into halftime leading 14-0. The Warriors would continue to hold the Panthers scoreless for the remainder of the game, even as the Warriors continued to sub in players who were touching the field for the first time ever.  Warren scored the final touchdown for the Warriors during the 3rd quarter. The extra point failed and the Warriors ended up winning the game 20-0.