Battle Mountain football ready to roll
Huskies open at Middle Park Friday
In the really big news in Battle Mountain football so far this season, we present to you June Elise Schuppler, born to Huskies head coach Jim Schuppler and his better half, Lisa, on Aug. 9.
And that broaches the next question, what news can Battle Mountain make this fall, starting with the season opener at Middle Park on Friday night at 7?
In the previous episode of “Battle Mountain Football,” the Huskies got off last year to a 6-1 start, including wins over league foes Summit County and Steamboat Springs, before the roof caved in for a 6-4 season with losses to Glenwood Springs (48-3), Palisade (52-0) and, yes, Eagle Valley (24-13).
As always, optimism abounds that “This is the year,” but the 1985 Jeff Campbell state-runner-up squad, the 1991 team, the only to win a league title at Battle Mountain and the 2011 David Joyce edition are the few and far between standards in the history of the program.
Schuppler, in his third year at the helm of the program, coached under Joyce from 2008-11, working with wide receivers, defensive backs, and special teams. So why not some more from Joyce coaching tree?
Battle Mountain welcomes back Jeff Krumlauf as its new defensive coordinator. Krum, as he’s better known, coached the defense under coaches Pat Engle and Joyce, before moving down to Colorado Springs with Joyce and Schuppler after the 2011 season, in which the Huskies went a staggering 9-2 and made the playoffs, to coach at Doherty.
Joyce headed up 5A Doherty in 2012 and 2013, with Krum taking over from 2014-18. With Krumlauf’s wife, Stephanie, taking a job back here in Eagle County, Krum is back in the Huskies’ fold.
“It’s amazing to have back one of my best friends coaching here,” Schuppler said. “He brings 14 years of coaching experience. It’s really, really special. It’s allowed me to turn over the reins of the defense.”
Meet the team
After senior quarterback Traver Goldberg went down after Week 7, then-sophomore Kai Haggen got thrown into the deep end of the pool, and it showed on the field.
With an offseason and a preseason camp as the No. 1, Haggen has impressed.
“He’s the most committed kid I’ve coached,” Schuppler said. “He was in the gym Jan. 2 and has learned the offense inside and out. He’s exactly the kid we want leading our team.”
The coach was purposely vague on what offense the Huskies will run, starting on Friday, but he has Kiah Gongaware as the feature back and Anthony Sanchez coming out of the slot. Spencer Goldberg is at split end and Garrett Anderson is the flanker.
Up front, there are new faces, yet some familiar names. Jimmy Hancock (always good to have a Hancock), Lucas Zivelonghi, Jeremiah Vasquez (yes, that’s Angelo’s kid), Evan Wright and Ernesto Esparza.
On the defensive side, Daniel Reddinger and Ryan Huck are the ends. Vasquez will lead the tackles, which will likely be a committee of players. The line-backing corps looks solid with veterans in Gongaware, Hancock, Victor Ortiz, and Goldberg.
In the secondary, Sanchez and Anderson man the corners, while Elijah Morales is the free safety. Sanchez and Anderson combined for eight picks last season.
The nuts and bolts
As is traditional with most Battle Mountain football teams, the Huskies are not huge and depth is a concern. The third customary caveat is that Palisade is the favorite in the 3A Slope — the Bulldogs outscored the league, 235-34 in five games last year.
Does Schuppler think the Huskies can make the playoffs? Of course. Find a coach in Colorado who doesn’t think his team is going to the playoffs.
On a deeper level, Schuppler likes what his team has shown in camp.
“What I love is what last year’s team lacked,” the coach said. “They’ve connected and bought into the no-superstar mentality. Last year, a lot of talk was about individuality. The guys are buying in that it’s not about the individual accolades, though those will come. They care about each other and are rooting each other on.”