Evan McConnell, Jeremy Allgood and Sammy Kilimann were all in the same kindergarten class at The Vanguard School 12 years ago. Wednesday, the trio sat at the same table inside the kiva at Cheyenne Mountain High School and signed letters of intent to continue playing soccer in college.
Growing up, the trio dreamed of playing at the highest level, and they got one step closer after school Wednesday.
“We talked about being pros, not really signing, but it definitely was surreal,” Kilimann said after signing with Cedarville University, a Division II program in Ohio.
McConnell and Allgood will continue their partnership at South Dakota School of Mines, a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference program. McConnell committed in December with Allgood following in January.
“We were both like ‘Let’s do this together,’” McConnell recalled.
After Cheyenne Mountain coach Tomas Martinez used him all over in his senior year, McConnell hopes to play in the midfield in college and major in biomedical engineering. Allgood, a defender, plans to study study applied biological science. The two expect to room together as freshmen.
“It’s nice to have another four years together,” Allgood said.
The three transitioned to Cheyenne Mountain gradually.
McConnell transferred after sixth grade, while Kilimann came over before his freshman year. Allgood made the switch before his senior season, which prevented him from playing for the Indians this fall while he was trying to find a spot to play in college.
“It was really hard on me. They let me play JV here, but it’s still not the same or near the same level,” Allgood said.
“It was very nerve-racking not to be committed, but it feels very great to finally have it done.”
Kilimann, a projected attacking midfielder, followed his faith farther east to a Christian university.
“It’s just going to be awesome, because I’m going to be around guys that love God just as much as I do,” he said.
“I was looking for a school that was for me, and this school was for me.”
He plans to major in international business with an eventual goal of bringing Soccer Without Borders - a program that looks to use the world’s most popular sport as a way help underprivileged youths - to Somalia.
The Indians went 9-5-2 in the fall, earning a trip to the Class 4A playoffs. McConnell scored nine goals and registered three assists. Kilimann scored five times and tallied 11 helpers, while Allgood was forced to wreak havoc in junior varsity games.
After growing up through the game together, three members of The Vanguard School kindergarten class of 2006 earned the opportunity to play beyond high school.
“I’ve known Evan and Jeremy my whole life,” Kilimann said, “since I was in kindergarten."
“We’ve known each other a long time,” Allgood added. “It’s great that Evan and I are going to the same school.”
Indian football sees three sign
Garry Raymond has the academic and athletic profile that allowed him to sign with Yale’s football program, and while a future on Wall Street could follow, he’s not all business yet.
Prior to a practice this fall in his first season at Cheyenne Mountain after his family moved from Washington D.C., Raymond hid teammate Nick Dunlap's keys.
The prank was innocent enough until Raymond forgot the post-practice reveal and went on with his evening, eventually heading to a friend’s house.
“We were hanging out for like three hours until I get a text in a group chat (that reads) ‘Guys, where are my keys? I’ve been here since practice,’” Raymond recalled.
Dunlap, who signed to play at Division II Chadron State (Nebraska), was quick to forgive despite spending a couple of hours searching. A meal at Chipotle on Raymond’s dime didn’t hurt.
“He’s a like a brother to me,” Dunlap said.
Raymond is headed to the Ivy League as a 6-foot-6 tight end after leading a 5-5 Cheyenne Mountain squad with 30 receptions for 501 yards and five touchdowns.
“They’re a similar offense to what we ran, so they’re looking for athletic guys, tight ends who can catch the ball and run as well as the receivers,” Raymond said. “I think I fit in really well.”
Raymond picked Yale over the likes of Villanova, Fordham and Penn.
“(It was) the opportunity to compete in the classroom and on the field at the highest level,” said Raymond who tentatively plans to study economics. “I know there’s more to life than football. Afterwards with a degree (from Yale), I’ll be able to go pretty far.”
Raymond isn’t the only Indian headed to a high level of college football, as Shamuri Rivera signed with Northern Colorado.
Rivera did a bit of everything for the Indians, rushing 46 times for 259 yards and a score, catching 19 balls for 329 yards and a touchdown and recording tackles with three interceptions and a fumble recovery.
He’s not sure which side of the ball he’ll start his college career on, but he has a career path in mind.
“The opportunities academically that I’m going to get up there, especially with the medical program, is really what drew me there,” Rivera said.
A son of a nurse, Rivera plans to study biology with a pre-med emphasis.
Wednesday was a long time coming for the athlete the Indians call "Sham." While 8-year-old Sham didn’t know what the older kids were doing when they signed, he said he knew from a young age he wanted to be in that position.
“It’s probably the most momentous moment of my entire life, really,” Rivera said. “I’ve been waiting a long, long time for this moment.”
Dunlap is headed to Western Nebraska where he plans to help Chadron State contend in the RMAC as a defensive tackle. He recorded 27 tackles, five tackles for losses, a sack and two fumble recoveries at a position where impact often isn’t represented by stats.
Coach Jay Saravis complemented Dunlap’s work ethic as he prepares for college ball.
“Mentally, I’m preparing for it to be the hardest thing,” Dunlap said. “So I just want to work as hard as possible right now.”
Denker goes juco baseball route
Jack Denker was the lone Cheyenne Mountain baseball representative to sign.
The outfielder who hit .283 with three home runs and 15 RBIs as a junior, inked with Coffeyville Community College in Southeast Kansas.
Wednesday's signing allowed Denker to play his senior season without worrying about what’s next.
“I’m relaxed because you get a sense of relief knowing you’re not going to stress about finding a place where you want to play next year,” Denker said.
The hope is that Denker can eventually find a four-year institution where he can continue to play after taking care of his general studies at CCC.“I’m going to try and move up after one or two years,” he said.
With a college decision made, Denker has just one more thing he’d like to take care of before graduating from Cheyenne Mountain.
“I would definitely like to get better at stealing bases,” Denker said.