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Smoky Hill grad Chase Vaughn begins training camp with Denver Broncos

Chase Vaughn is a long way from Smoky Hill High School.

The former Aurora prep standout with the Buffaloes in the mid-2000s has worked his way all the way up to a shot with the hometown Denver Broncos, who began training camp for the 2014 National Football League season on Thursday.

Vaughn, a 6-foot-1, 242-pound linebacker who starred at Division II Colorado State-Pueblo, signed with Denver in May and is on the 90-man roster that begins training camp.

Previously, Vaughn played in several professional football leagues, including the Arena Football League (with the Spokane Shock), United Football League (with the Las Vegas Locos), Canadian Football League (Calgary Stampeders) and Indoor Football League (Colorado Ice).

Due to construction at the Broncos’ Dove Valley headquarters, fans won’t be able to attend training camp practices as they have in the past, however the team will conduct a workout from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Gates open at 10:30 a.m. and parking and admission are free.

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

Aurora Prep

Big season lands Regis Jesuit 12th in country in CBS MaxPreps Cup rankings

The final numbers prove Regis Jesuit High School’s fantastic 2013-14 athletic season ranked right up among the best in country.

According to the CBS MaxPreps Cup national rankings released on July 22 (and listed below), the Aurora high school — which has a separate Boys Division and Girls Division — had the 12th-most successful athletic program in the country according to a formula that awards points based on championship or runner-up finishes in state and association level. The size of playoff classification, size of state and type of sport (major vs. minor) also was factored into the formula.

Regis Jesuit captured a total of six Class 5A team championships in 2013-14 including 5A titles in boys and girls swimming, boys and girls golf, girls basketball and boys lacrosse. The school’s baseball team finished as the runner-up to Rocky Mountain. The results netted the school 739 points, putting Regis Jesuit just ahead of Westminster (Atlanta) with a 13th-place total of 732 and just behind Rock Bridge (Columbia, Missouri), which came in 11th with 743.

No other Colorado high school appeared in this season’s MaxPreps top 25. Cherry Creek won top honors for Colorado in 2012-13 and finished 23rd in the national rankings.

Bentonville, Ark., was the clear No. 1 program in 2013-14 with a total of eight state championships.

2014 CBS MAXPREPS CUP NATIONAL RANKINGS

1. Bentonville (Ark.), 1,120 2. St. Pius X Catholic (Atlanta), 985 3. Punahou (Honolulu), 980 4. St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), 967 5. Marist (Atlanta), 918 6. American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.), 834 7. Carmel (Ind.), 832 8. Deer Creek (Edmond, Okla.), 804 9. The Pingry School (Martinsville, N.J.), 799 10. Wayzata (Plymouth, Minn.), 766 11. Rock Bridge (Columbia, Mo.), 743 12. REGIS JESUIT (AURORA), 739 13. Westminster (Atlanta), 732 14. Cardinal Gibbons (Raleigh, N.C.), 730 15. Webb (Knoxville, Tenn.), 715 16. Tottenville (Staten Island, N.Y.), 710 17. Summit (Bend, Ore.), 702 18. Bozeman (Mont.), 686 19. Madison Central (Miss.), 676 20. Bedford (N.H.), 674 21. Darien (Conn.), 664 22. Aquinas (Overland Park, Kan.), 662 23. Mountain Brook (Birmingham, Ala.), 650 24. Montgomery Academy (Ala.), 648 25. La Salle Academy (Providence, R.I.), 642

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

PERRYBLOG: Coloradans have faith in their boss's religion and good health Dave Perry: Preoccupations

PERRYBLOG: Coloradans have faith in their boss’s religion and good health

You can’t hum while holding your nose closed.

Weird huh?

You knew you thought you could. It’s so odd, illogical and stupid, that you can’t believe it’s true. Just as implausible? Half of Colorado backs the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing Hobby Lobby owners to prevent its health insurance company from offering some forms of birth control — because of the company owners’ religious preferences.

Weird huh?

When I read the results of that recent Quinnipiac poll this morning, I flashed back to the day Sen. John McCain introduced Sarah Palin as his presidential running mate. It was just too odd, too illogical to fathom.

Why? Why would anyone think it’s a good idea to let employers dictate what health care services are and aren’t offered to employees based on the religious beliefs of the employer?

But sure as chickens dream, half of adults in Colorado think it’s a good idea to let bosses decide which form of birth control their insurance plan can and cannot offer. This became an issue because Hobby Lobby owner David Green is serious about his extreme Oklahoma religion. Leaders of his church have told him some forms of modern birth control are sinful. Green objects that under federal healthcare laws, birth control prescribed by doctors is considered a medical issue and must be treated that way by insurance companies.

Here’s what you may not know. Green is a Pentecost. You know, the people who gather on Sundays for some serious praising and sometimes end up speaking in “tongues” and writhing with the spirit. This is a religion that believes in faith healing, where you put your hands on cancer victims and draw the “holy spirit” into a body to do what doctors can’t or even haven’t had the opportunity to try.

That’s Green’s religion. That’s what’s driving the health-care decisions for Hobby Lobby employees.

As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out, this extraordinary decision could allow companies to dictate to insurance companies what health services are not covered, based on the religious preference of company owners. Since this same court has ruled that corporations are people, just about any corporation can assume a religious doctrine dictating what the company health plan will or won’t pay for. While Justice Samuel Alito said this ruling affects only birth control, it opens the doors for states sympathetic to such nonsense to write laws allowing greater leeway into shaping employee health benefits. Under a likely Texas law, if your boss’s religion doesn’t allow for blood transfusions or blood-based treatments, such as those often used for leukemia, you’re on your own. If that means you hemorrhage and die on the operating table because you can’t afford to pay for such services, and the courts haven’t sorted all this out, well, then it’s because the Lord decided it was time to call you home.

I guess a lot of Colorado residents think, “it’s just birth control — no big deal.” But don’t think for a second that people who believe God will keep you well if you’re bitten by a poisonous snake or drink poison, or that your holy underwear can keep you safe from fire and Satan, would be unable to wreak untold havoc in your personal life. I think this is a good place to point out that almost every deadly skirmish on the planet these days stems from disagreements about religion.

We’re not talking about casserole-carrying Lutherans from the Midwest here. The special undies and snake dancing faithful are the kinds of religious disciples motivated to decide what your health insurance should and shouldn’t cover, or what you should or shouldn’t wear to work. Since corporations are people, and you really have no idea who or what runs the corporations these days, Saudi Muslim money unhappy with the way American women dress at work could easily dictate head coverings and modest, full-length dresses. The Supreme Court said that when serious religious convictions are at stake, they must be appreciated.

This has all shocked me. What conservative thinks it’s a good idea for anyone to impose their religion on another American? If any one offense seems to be agreed upon here, it’s that one. The Baptists don’t want the Jews or the Catholics telling them what to do, ever. Forcing anyone’s religion on another person is about as un-American as you can get without snatching their guns.

All I can think of is that too many Colorado residents are misled about the decision, or they’re just not paying attention. It was a bad call that opens a door to all kinds of bizarre problems, and if you don’t think someone will try and run with this, think again, long and hard. In what way have the majority of employers not consistently looked for ways to get more from their employees and pay less for it? What religion, other than your own, do you think should be advising health insurance companies and doctors about meting out care? Honestly, do you even trust your own religion’s leaders to make health-care decisions for you?

I didn’t think so. While we may be cavalier about the dilemma’s of others, when it comes to our own lives, we want science to call the shots for science, not politicians, lawyers or religious leaders.

It’s unclear how Americans are going to be able to protect themselves from their employer’s religious convictions. But there’s little doubt that some brave lawmakers in Colorado or Congress with give it a shot.  And when they do, they’re going to need your support. If we permit the country’s employers to make even some health-care decisions for some employees on some religious principles, none of us will have a prayer.

Aurora Prep

Regis Jesuit grad Bud Thomas, Mercer win ESPY for Best Upset

Months later, Bud Thomas and the seniors on the Mercer men’s basketball team got to celebrate their greatest triumph again.

The Regis Jesuit High School grad and his teammates pulled off the shocker of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament on March 21, as the 14th-seeded Bears knocked off third-seeded Duke 78-71 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C.

Thomas scored just two points against coach Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils — one of the teams Thomas always followed in the NCAA tournament growing up — but dished out five assists and played strong defensively for Mercer, the Atlantic Sun Conference champion which lost in the next round to Tennessee.

The Mercer seniors were in the crowd in Los Angeles when the award was presented Wednesday night. The Mercer upset topped Connecticut’s victory over Florida in the NCAA men’s basketball national championship game and Chris Weidman’s upset knockout of 10-time UFC champion Anderson Silva.

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning also won two ESPY awards, for Best Record-Breaking Performance as well as Best NFL Player.

2014 ESPY WINNERS

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Winners at the 2014 ESPY Awards presented Wednesday:

Best Breakthrough Athlete: Richard Sherman; Best Moment: U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team; Best Game: Iron Bowl; Best Record-Breaking Performance: Peyton Manning; Best Play: Chris Davis; Best Female Athlete: Ronda Rousey; Best Male Athlete: Kevin Durant; Best Team: Seattle Seahawks; Best Upset: MERCER; Best Female Action Sports Athlete: Jamie Anderson; Best Male Action Sports Athlete: Nyjah Houston; Best Female Athlete with a Disability: Jamie Whitmore; Best Male Athlete with a Disability: Declan Farmer; Best Female College Athlete: Breanna Stewart; Best Male College Athlete: Doug McDermott; Best Coach/Manager: Gregg Popovich; Best MLS Player: Tim Cahill; Best NBA Player: Kevin Durant; Best NFL Player: Peyton Manning; Best NHL Player: Sidney Crosby; Best MLB Player: Miguel Cabrera; Best WNBA Player: Maya Moore; Best Female US Olympian: Jamie Anderson; Best Male US Olympian: Sage Kotsenburg; Championship Performance: Kawhi Leonard; Best Bowler: Pete Weber; Best Female Tennis Player: Maria Sharapova; Best Male Tennis Player: Rafael Nadal; Best Comeback Athlete: Russell Westbrook; Best Female Golfer: Michelle Wie; Best Male Golfer: Bubba Watson; Best International Athlete: Cristiano Ronaldo; Best Fighter: Floyd Mayweather; Best Driver: Ryan Hunter-Reay; Best Jockey: Victor Espinoza

SPECIAL AWARDS

Jimmy V Perseverance Award: Stuart Scott; Arthur Ashe Courage Award: Michael Sam; Pat Tillman Award For Service: Josh Sweeney

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

Former foes Sparks, Zimmerman hold court together at Western Nebraska C.C. Aurora Prep

Former foes Sparks, Zimmerman hold court together at Western Nebraska C.C.

Hannah Sparks has the talent to jump far, but she’d rather jump higher.

The recent graduate of Aurora’s Cherokee Trail High School passed on a number of scholarship offers to compete in track — where she was a talented long and triple jumper and relay runner — to pursue her love of basketball.

According to her father, Andre, Sparks — a first team All-Centennial League and second team Aurora Sentinel All-City selection for the 2013-14 season — is headed to Western Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. The 5-foot-7 point guard signed her national athletic letter of intent for a full ride basketball scholarship in April, but wasn’t part of Cherokee Trail’s larger signing ceremony.

In three varsity seasons at Cherokee Trail, Sparks averaged 12.7 points, 3.0 assists and 2.6 steals per game. She posted career bests in all three categories as a senior when she led the Cougars (11-14) in scoring at 15.0 ppg, assists at 3.4 apg and steals at 3.2 spg.

At Western Nebraska, Sparks is set to join up with another Aurora standout — Smoky Hill grad Brooke Zimmerman — as a teammate and roommate. Aside from going against each other in Centennial League play twice a season, the two play together with the Aurora-based Colorado Lady Swoosh club team.

Western Nebraska has a successful tradition, featuring 26 straight seasons of 20-plus victories and a tally of 77 players who have moved on to play at four-year schools. The Cougars added four Colorado players to the roster in Sparks, Zimmerman, Abriana Lujan of Highlands Ranch and Doherty’s Angela Vigil.

Sparks could stay at Western Nebraska for one season or two as larger schools track her progress and consider offering her a scholarship.

A number of other Lady Swoosh basketball players are headed to play collegiately, including Cherokee Trail grad Lily Hartley (Western State) and Eaglecrest grad Jamie Stoner (Nebraska Wesleyan).

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

Aurora Prep

Aurora holes-in-one, June & July

Congratulations to some local golfers who have recorded recent holes-in-one on Aurora golf courses. To report holes-in-one, have courses send faxes to 720-324-4965 or email sports@aurorasentinel.com:

MAY

May 19: Dottie Biggs, Fitzsimons G.C., No. 9, 95 yards. Witnesses: Lala Bomholt, Judy Peters.

May 27: Alyssa Nance, Springhill G.C., No. 17, 120 yards. Witnesses: D.J. Fuller, Cornell Heaps.

JUNE

June 4: Jason Allen, Aurora Hills G.C., No. 7, 195 yards, 5 iron. Witnesses: Brian Howley, Sarah Boggie, Robert Lee.

June 8: Deon Williams, Fitzsimons G.C., No. 9, 136 yards, pitching wedge. Witness: Keith Vaughan.

June 10: John Thomas, Fitzsimons G.C., No. 5, 104 yards. Witnesses: Gregory Curry, Ron Henry, Larry Coles.

June 12: Gail Kloppel, Saddle Rock G.C., No. 5, 109 yards, 7 wood. Witness: Rita Bartels.

June 12: Brandon Stepter, Fitzsimons G.C., No. 5, 85 yards, 60 degree wedge. Witness: R. Rishmanehi.

June 12: Grant Wolfe, Fitzsimons G.C., No. 9, 124 yards, 9 iron. Witnesses: Jackson Lamb, Robert Seaman.

June 20: Don Keeley, Fitzsimons G.C., No. 5, yardage UA, lob wedge. Witnesses: Carla Stonbreaker, Kendra Schurich, Merl Steel

June 21: Cliff Schopf, Murphy Creek G.C., No. 5, 153 yards, 6 iron. Witnesses: Todd Smith, Daryl Fengler, Dean Kirsch.

June 25: Kent Wilmes, Aurora Hills G.C., No. 13, 178 yards, 8 iron. Witnesses: Jim Damon, Bryan Hogan.

JULY

 July 7: Jon Dialk, Saddle Rock G.C., No. 14, 169 yards, 7 iron. Witnesses: Willy O, Turk, BC.

July 12: Peter Brandner, Murphy Creek G.C., No. 5, 138 yards, 9 iron. Witnesses: Matthew Berry, Kathy Freibarghaus, Rob Vogt.

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

COLE: Not your Fatherland's football game Aaron Cole

COLE: Not your Fatherland’s football game

Near the end of the second half, in the waning minutes of a tie game, a curious voice pipes up over the drone of chatter and forks colliding with knives collecting straggling bits of gravy.

“So what happens now?”

Three voices reflexively answer, albeit slight variants of each other.

“Overtime. Two, 15-minute halves. PK’s after that if no one scores.”

If conventional wisdom dictates that Americans have a limited appetite for soccer, someone forgot to tell everyone at Helga’s German restaurant in Aurora. Granted during a World Cup final, in the middle of a German restaurant, you’re likely to find a few scholars of the sport — probably akin to asking Home Depot shoppers how far apart wall studs should be spaced. But appetites are why most people are here anyway. Potatoes cover the bar. Gravy covers the potatoes and everything else, maybe except for the beer. If watching the World Cup requires nearly three hours of concentration, that easily spans one meal. Helga’s can serve you the caloric equivalent of three, on the same plate.

I don’t get the feeling that Milton Hunholz counts calories in the same way I do. Which is not to say the Aurora man (who is a dead-ringer for actor Bill Murray’s quasi-famous brother Brian) is a big man. The rancher, who lives in Aurora and raises cattle in Watkins on his family farm, says he eats Helga’s food 3-4 times a week and I get the feeling he doesn’t count leftovers.

Hunholz is friends of the family: Helga, her brother and their mother, who died a few years ago. He can remember going to Helga’s many years ago, when it was a Hoffman Heights restaurant that collected native German-speaking Aurorans in the tiny dining room with 12 tables. Back then, Helga’s was a place that German immigrants in Aurora could gather over bowls of goulash. Now, nearly 100 people crowd the restaurant near the Town Center at Aurora transfixed to the television broadcasting Germany vs. Argentina in the world’s most-watched sporting event. Swarm or not, Hunholz says the family atmosphere is the same now as it ever was, evidenced by the regulars that cycle in and come to shake his hand on the way to their seats.

“Doesn’t take long when everyone comes in, has good beer and good food. You get to know everybody,” he says.

For that reason, Hunholz is the best navigator for my three hours of fandom for Die Mannschaft, German beer, German food and the transmogrification of a potato into 12 different foodstuffs.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I am personally a fan of Italian soccer. Long ago when I covered sports, I divorced myself for personally rooting for any team because I thought it mattered. Now, as I get older, I understand that my news judgment is neither clouded nor consequential if I “root” for a team in a bar for three hours in a game that has less consequence than a U.N. resolution. The short of the long: No one cares.)

Pointing to the empty hooks above the bar, Hunholz shows me where regulars hang their steins. Considering very few of them are up I’m guessing that it’s mostly a familiar crowd today.

“I know some of these people, not a lot though,” he says.

I stand corrected.

“There’s just a lot of people here,” he replies.

Oh, gotcha.

There’s no referendum on whether soccer can survive in America at Helga’s. Tim Andre, the manager, is equal parts host and cheerleader in a German soccer jersey. Donald Ellis, who lives in Aurora, waxes on whether Germany benefits from taking the game to penalty kicks — the most-fair and least-fair way of deciding a game in all of sports right now. Soccer is alive, it’s way beyond surviving.

Hunholz is more than a casual fan of the game, he knows the intricacies even if he doesn’t know some of the players’ names. When German striker Miroslav Klose, the most prolific goal scorer in World Cup history, exited the game for likely the final time in his career, Hunholz’s big, weathered hands clapped the loudest.

When Manuel Neuer, Germany’s outstanding goalkeeper, sent another goal kick into sub-orbit, Hunholz paid attention: “Maybe the Broncos could sign that guy.”

But as my guide, Hunholz navigated the game, his history and his lifelong connection to Helga’s for 117 minutes, paying close attention to details like what beer I should drink, throughout.

Then, as Germany scored the winning goal, in the 11th hour of the final game, Hunholz stopped being my lone guide and started hosting the group of people who had come to shake his hand earlier.

“So, what now?” I ask.

“We get another round. Want one?”

Next time.

Protesting Pills? Marla Keown

Protesting Pills?

Christians from churches in Castle Rock and Elizabeth decided to protest “everything that Planned Parenthood stands for.”

PICTURE THIS: Hog Wars Marla Keown

PICTURE THIS: Hog Wars

It’s always hot but it’s always worth it! Congrats Rangeview for winning this year’s competition!!

R.J. Demps Memorial 3-on-3 hoops tournament shifted to October Aurora Prep

R.J. Demps Memorial 3-on-3 hoops tournament shifted to October

The annual R.J. Demps Memorial 3-on-3 basketball tournament has moved to Oct. 4.

The 3-year-old tournament commemorating the life of late Regis Jesuit High School boys basketball player R.J. Demps had been scheduled for July 5, but Will Cobb — Demps’ former teammate and one of the tournament organizers — said the hope was shifting the date to during the school year and holding it on the weekend of Regis Jesuit’s alumni homecoming could generate more teams participating.

Entry fee is $100 for teams looking to enter any of five categories: youth, high school recreational and high school competitive, adult recreational and adult competitive. Proceeds raised go towards the RJ Demps ’09 Memorial Scholarship.

Visit the tournament page here, to register. Play begins promptly at 9 a.m. Oct. 4.

One of two senior starters on the Regis Jesuit team that won the Class 5A boys state basketball championship in the 2008-09 season, the well-liked Demps helped launched what turned out to be a three-peat for the Raiders and coach Ken Shaw, who Demps followed to Regis Jesuit from Smoky Hill.

On Dec. 21, 2011, midway through his sophomore year at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., the 20-year-old Demps and a teammate were in a one-car crash on MO Highway 45 near Weston.

Demps was killed in the accident police believe was caused by slick roads, while his teammate survived. The pair were on their way to the Kansas City International Airport to return home for the Christmas holiday. Three days later, Demps’ family, friends and former teammates packed the Regis Jesuit gymnasium to remember him and the basketball team room was renamed in his honor.

The team room in the Regis Jesuit Boys Division gym was renamed in Demps’ honor and his jerseys hang both outside and inside the room.

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes