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Battle Mountain football drops opener to Mustangs

Battle Mountain's Anthony Sanchez breaks tackles against Ralston Valley during the season opener Saturday in Edwards. The 3A Huskies lost, 42-0. to the 5A Mustangs.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

EDWARDS — Battle Mountain played a football game on Saturday afternoon.

Visiting 5A Ralston Valley won, 42-0, as expected, but even with the lopsided score, football happened.

There was the solid thwack of pads being smacked together, the sound of referees’ whistles — probably never more appreciated than ever — and shouting and cheering. In these days of COVID-19, anything resembling normal should be thoroughly appreciated.

Heck, it was even a very warm day by Battle Mountain football standards.

Battle Mountain’s Elijah Morales runs after his interception at the end of the first half against Ralston Valley Saturday in Edwards. Battle Mountain is at Palisade next week. (Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com)
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“It was amazing,” the Huskies’ Blu Barnett said. “At last to get on the field and get some hits in. Nothing’s better than live action.”

Truth be told, the result was relatively predictable the moment this game was announced on Thursday as a quick reschedule from Eagle Valley. Ralston Valley went 12-1 last season, bowing only to Columbine in the 5A semifinals.

For whatever it’s worth, the visiting Mustangs were ranked No. 4 in the Chsaanow.com poll. That all said, the Huskies embraced Saturday’s game, however long the odds, as an opportunity.

“For us, it’s a chance to show we can get better,” Barnett said. “Battle Mountain doesn’t have a great reputation for football, but we have fight and we’re willing to fight for our brothers.”

“Not a lot of 3A schools would have the gumption to take on an opponent like that,” Huskies head coach Jim Schuppler said. “The physical mistakes we’ll deal with and the mental mistakes we’ll teach. I’m super proud of my boys.”

And kudos to Battle Mountain athletic director Gentry Nixon on that front. It ain’t easy finding a new football game on 72 hours notice. Thank your A.D. from a socially appropriate distance for that.

In the first quarter, the Huskies helped Ralston Valley a little too much with three turnovers — a punt muff, a fumble and a pick — leading to three scores and a 21-0 Mustangs’ lead. Ralston Valley started drives in the opening period on Battle Mountain’s 35-, 29- and 19-yard lines.

Battle Mountain’s Marshall Jones causes backfield mayhem on Saturday against Ralston Valley in Edwards. (Chris Dillmann| cdillmann@vaildaily.com)
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It doesn’t matter if you have the 1985 Chicago Bears on defense, short fields like that are a killer.

“I think we had some nerves coming in,” Huskies quarterback Kai Haggen said. “We have some kids who’ve never played football. Having a 5A school is a tough opponent. Once we realized they were 17- and 18-year-olds just like us, we were able to play with them. We needed to cut down on our mistakes.”

Battle Mountain settled in nicely during the second quarter and mounted an impressive 15-play, 67-yard drive, consisting of ground chuck. Ryan Huck, Elijah Morales and Anthony Sanchez all carried the ball.

While the march did not produce points, it showed the Huskies should be able to move the ball against 3A teams. Morales finished the first half with an interception on the defensive side of the football.

“When we eliminated our mistakes and got out of our way, we saw what we can do, and that will be our focus for next week,” Schuppler said.

Leading 21-0 at the half, Ralston Valley dropped the hammer with three touchdowns during the first eight minutes of the third quarter.

Battle Mountain has a quick turnaround this week as it heads to Stocker Stadium to face Palisade on Thursday at 6 p.m.


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