EDWARDS — What in the wild, wild world of sports is going on here?
Battle Mountain football is carrying a heap of momentum going into next week’s Eagle County Bowl against Eagle Valley. The Huskies are riding a two-game winning streak into next week’s season finale after thrashing Green Mountain, 29-15, on Friday night.
This comes on the heels of a 41-0 whitewashing of 4A Liberty last week.
Simply put, Battle Mountain looked good Friday night. Presumably, in honor of playing Eagle Valley next week, the Huskies were extremely efficient offensively out of the double-wing and laid the pads on the defense. The game plan was solid, and the players executed.
In short, the Huskies looked like a football team. That may sound condescending, but the learning curve the past two weeks has been nothing short of astonishing. Were it not for the chilly nights, Huskies fans would probably like to see this season go into December the way their team is playing.
On a more serious note, just look at how this team has progressed in its home games this season — a 42-0 loss to 5A Ralston Valley, a 41-14 loss to Evergreen and a 29-15 win Friday night.
“We’ve been playing hard all year and we’re finally stepping out of our own way,” Huskies coach Jim Schuppler said. “We eliminate our turnovers and rely on our offensive line, we’re a dangerous team. Their effort was outstanding and it has been all year. We came out and did what we do and didn’t get in our own way.”
And, by the by, Friday was nice revenge for 2016 and 2017. Green Mountain and Battle Mountain played both years with the Rams winning 40-12 down on the Front Range and 27-23 here in Edwards, the latter being the Class of 2021’s freshman year.
Crank it up
Battle Mountain’s defense forced the punt on Green Mountain’s first possession with a sack by Ryan Huck. The Rams attempted a punt, but the snap went high. In corralling the snap, the Green Mountain punter accidentally went down to a knee, so the Huskies took over on the Rams’ 24-yard line.
Though officially not a turnover, the Huskies capitalized anyway. Josh Keiser split the uprights for a 3-0 lead. Count that as a triumph of special-teams coaching as the kick went over instead of under the ball. (We are required by law to give Huskies soccer coach David Cope a hard time.)
Again, Battle Mountain’s defense forced the Rams to turn the ball over on downs and the Huskies’ offense started plowing the road. The offensive line was magnificent Friday blowing holes in Green Mountain’s line.
Battle Mountain’s first touchdown drive was a sign of things to come — a lot of running and a lot of time off the clock. Anthony Sanchez, Milan Smith, Elijah Morales and Tanner Roberts led the way. Smith finished it, but the Huskies missed the extra point and led 9-0.
That would not cost Battle Mountain because even though the Rams drove the ball deep, Mr. Morales provided the stop.
He intercepted Green Mountain’s Darius Padilla at the Huskies’ 11.
“See ball, get ball, that’s my mentality. I should have had that,” Morales said. “I’m not going to lie, but Luke Larsen is a big boy.”
After coming down with the ball and bouncing off Larsen, Morales trucked it all the way back with a convoy to the end zone.
With a 15-0 lead — the kick was blocked — the Huskies were in good shape at the half, but needed a finish. Ask and ye shall find.
Before the second play of the second half, quarterback Kai Haggen had only thrown the ball once. With a run-heavy offense, Haggen ran the play-action and found Anthony Sanchez all by his lonesome in the middle of the field. Sanchez went 76 yards for a 22-0 advantage.
Late into the third, the Huskies iced it with a nine-play, 52-yard march. Sanchez got his second score of the night.
Here come the Devils
While the hype for Eagle Valley at Battle Mountain begins, there will be the perfunctory comparisons of results. Obviously, Battle Mountain beating Green Mountain will be a point of conversation. The Rams defeated Eagle Valley 35-20 earlier this year. Please take that with a grain of salt as the Devils were quarantined for two weeks and the Rams were on their third game of the season, while Eagle Valley was opening their year.
Either way, this is a team that is having a lot of fun together — on and off the field.
“Just one more day together. This season has been so unpredictable that we’ve been lucky to have games,” Schuppler said. “We just want to have one more practice together, one more game together. I get emotional about these seniors because they came in with me.”