Battle Mountain gets gritty win at Aspen
ASPEN — R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
It was the theme of the week during practice for Battle Mountain football.
And the Huskies certainly did earn some with a 21-11 win at Aspen on Friday night.
A team gets respect with a gutsy defensive effort and courageous call late on fourth down late in the fourth quarter.
On a wet and windy night, Battle Mountain’s offense struggled for most of the second half. The Huskies’ defense turned away Aspen over and over, allowing the Skiers just one score on a short field.
Aspen’s Matt Gregory made a huge punt return to give his team the ball on the Huskies 30. The Skiers’ Harry Ferguson ran 31 yards for a score to close Battle Mountain’s lead to 14-11.
The Huskies’ defense just yielded no more, stubbornly turning the Skiers away. And Battle Mountain’s offense sparked enough late to close down Aspen on its Homecoming.
He called what?
Cas Sheridan made a terrific punt return for nine yards, which sounds strange, but it gave the Huskies the ball on the Skiers’ 41. Battle Mountain quarterback Demetrius Parrish called his own number for eight yards, followed by a healthy dose of Wyatt Harwood.
Parrish somehow turned a broken play into a 15-yard gain, giving his team the ball on the Aspen 6. The Huskies bogged down and faced a fourth-and-goal from the 2 with 2:19 left in regulation.
Going for the touchdown was gamble No. 1. Coach Kevin Meyer calling a play action pass on a night when the air attack was not working was major gamble No. 2.
Parrish hit Chase Keep on the gutsy call, and the Huskies moved to 4-2 overall and 3-0 in the 2A Slope North.
Battle Mountain missed out on a golden scoring chance in the first quarter after Ryder Olle blocked an Aspen punt, giving the Huskies the ball on the Skiers’ 7. The normally steady Keep missed a 25-yarder wide right.
Aspen answered with a 37-yard field goal to open the scoring. On a windy night, Parrish struggled with the pass, but he hooked up with Josh Williams for a big gain on the next drive. Two plays later, Parrish found a very wide-open Noah Shamis for 35 yards and a touchdown. It wasn’t a pretty pass, but anything that scored on a nasty night was a thing of beauty.
Speaking of beauty, Owen Riley made one heck of a catch for 32 yards. Somehow, the senior got one foot in. That set up Parrish to Harwood for a 3-yard strike and 14-3 halftime lead.
Without trying to jinx things, this was a big win for the Huskies within the 2A Slope North. Battle Mountain controls its destiny to win the conference, which it must do outright, as one of the conditions CHSAA set down for the Huskies to make the 3A playoffs.
The Huskies host Basalt for Homecoming next week and finish 2A Slope play at Coal Ridge in two weeks. Battle Mountain finishes the regular season with a home game against 3A Pueblo. If the Huskies can win the league outright and be in the top 16 of CHSAA’s wild-card points at the end of the season, then they qualify for the playoffs. The first issuing of the wild-card standings comes out Monday.
While the Huskies will be dinged comparatively for wins against 2A squads — wins against 3A teams count for more in the system — running the table couldn’t hurt their cause. (Playing only nine games also will hurt the Huskies. Teams earn points, even in losses, so Battle Mountain will be behind on the count there.)
Either way it turns out, that Battle Mountain football is possibly in the mix in the playoffs is another sign things are turning toward the better.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.