FREDERICK -- After making it to the quarterfinals and semifinals of the state playoffs the past two years -- and losing to the eventual champion in each case -- the Frederick football team had big things in mind for this postseason, particularly after winning its last five regular-season games.
But the Warriors' plans went slip-slidin' away on their snowy home field Saturday afternoon.
Seeded third in the 3A playoffs, a turnover-prone Frederick team made a first-round exit, suffering a 33-8 rout at the hands of 14th-seeded Eagle Valley.
"It's terrible, the worst feeling ever," said FHS senior Jacob Sleeth, who rushed for 121 yards but was injured in the second half. "We should not have lost that game.
"We should have been prepared better. We came out thinking we were going to walk over them and we didn't."
Frederick turned the ball over three times in the first quarter and five times for the game. The Warriors trailed 20-0 with two minutes left in the first half, and with the field becoming covered by snow, the chances for a big comeback diminished.
The Warriors, champions of the 3A Northern League, finished the season with an 8-3 record, while Eagle Valley improved to the same mark a year after it went 1-8.
Frederick had outscored its previous five opponents by a combined 161-34, but this was clearly a different week with a different opponent and some nasty weather conditions.
"They just outplayed us," FHS coach Thad Lear said. "I don't think we underestimated them. We knew we were going to be in for a battle, but we made too many mistakes. When you turn the ball over as many times as we did today, you're not going to win football games."
But Eagle Valley, perhaps more accustomed to playing in inclement weather, fumbled the ball just twice, losing it once, compared to seven fumbles and four lost for Frederick.
"This weather was nuts today, but it kind of played into our hands," EVHS coach John Ramunno said. "In our offense we just like to go straight ahead. We've got four seniors on our O-line and two senior tight ends who are pretty good blockers, so (the weather) played into our hands today. We had to go straight ahea."
And it doesn't hurt having running back Cole Nielsen, who ran for 211 yards and caught a pass for another 35. He scored three touchdowns for Eagle Valley after plays that went for 10, 35 and 75 yards. Overall, the Devils accumulated 323 yards on the ground.
Before the field conditions got too bad, Eagle Valley scored TDs on its first two possessions, with a Frederick fumble setting up the second of those scores.
FHS added an interception and another fumble lost in the first period, the latter coming at the Eagle Valley 4-yard line.
The Devils scored a third TD with two minutes left in the first half to go up 20-0. That's when Frederick came up with its lone highlight of the game as Sleeth swept around the right side and went 51 yards for a touchdown with 41 seconds left before intermission.
But after a couple of more turnovers -- and a botched punt -- in the second half, it became clear that the end of the road was at hand for Frederick.
"I feel terrible," Sleeth said after his ninth 100-yard-plus rushing game of the season. "I thought we had a good chance at the state title. We just didn't get there."
Lear was quick to note that despite Saturday's outcome, the Frederick seniors accomplished plenty in the last three seasons.
"I wish we would have been able to do better things today, but they're a great group of seniors and I can't say enough about them. I wouldn't trade them for anybody," Lear said. "Look at what these kids have accomplished in three years. They've been a part of three state playoff teams and they've won two conference titles. Right now it's going to suck, but this is the best group of kids we've had in a long time."
EAGLE VALLEY 33, FREDERICK 8
At Frederick H.S.
Eagle Valley (8-3) 14 6 13 0 -- 33
Frederick (8-3) 0 8 0 0 -- 8
EV -- Cole Nielsen 10 run (Travis Edgar kick)
EV -- Nielsen 35 pass from Jordan Hudspeth (Edgar kick)
EV -- Hudspeth 9 run (kick fail)
Frederick -- Jacob Sleeth 51 run (Michael Broz pass from Jaron Balman)
EV -- Nielsen 75 run (pass fail) EV -- Cody Thurston 2 run (Edgar kick)
First downs 15 9
Rushes-yards 59-323 34-189
Passing yards 40 23
Comp-Att-Int 3-6-0 4-14-1
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 7-4
Penalties-Yards 5-35 2-10
RUSHING -- Eagle Valley: Nielsen 24-211, Ramunno 19-57, Thurston 7-27, Garcia 5-20, Hudspeth 1-9, Sandoval 3-0, Dostal 1-(-1); Frederick: Sleeth 15-121, Balman 8-39, Miller 5-19, Broz 5-10, Lindberg 1-0.
PASSING (comp-att-int-yards) -- Eagle Valley: Hudspeth 3-6-0, 40 yards; Frederick: Balman 4-13-1, 23 yards; Broz 0-1-0.
RECEIVING -- Eagle Valley: Hart 2-5, Nielsen 1-35; Frederick: Broz 2-19, Wise 2-4.