"Come out Friday and watch"
EAGLE-VAIL – New Battle Mountain football coach Pat Engle does not take kindly to the expression “same, old Battle Mountain.”
“Come out Friday night and watch,” he said before Monday’s practice at Huskies Stadium.
That would be when the Huskies head west to Hot Stuff Stadium to face archrival Eagle Valley.
Mention to the coach that the Devils thrashed the Huskies in last season’s opener, 58-14, and the response is, “It’s already burned and buried.”
Are we sensing a theme here?
Yes, it is August when every high-school team in the country is undefeated and the possibilities are endless. There is always an extra bounce in a coach’s or player’s step.
Is this the year Battle Mountain, coming off of consecutive one-win seasons, turns the corner? Only time will tell.
But, if Engle and the Huskies have anything to say about it, 2003 could be the start of something good.
“I think that these kids have an incredible attitude,” Engle said. “They’ve truly embraced what we’ve tried to get to them. All the other coaches who have been on the staff in the past said that we haven’t worked this hard. The kids have never practiced this hard. The kids have never shown this much enthusiasm. The kids have never been that disciplined. I have no idea what to expect from this season, other than that we’re going compete.”
Without black-and-gold-tinted glasses, there are some signs that Engle may be onto something.
n The Huskies have better numbers than in the past. There are 50 players in camp, as opposed to 34 last year.
n That depth is better shown in the team’s depth chart. There are no freshman in backup positions, which is a big key, if you’ve been watching Battle Mountain football the last few years. The starters, generally, have been solid. But when a starter goes down, the Huskies have had to sub in freshmen, which usually hasn’t ended in a good result.
n Speaking of freshman, there are 20 in camp – and that is how you start building a long-term program.
n The Huskies have a bit of size in 2003. All but one of the Huskies starters on the offensive line are bigger than 200 pounds. The team’s smallest defensive lineman is 185 pounds. This is a pleasant change from past years.
That having been said, the Huskies have to get it done on the field. On offense, transfer Adrian Martinez, a junior, and sophomore Derek Rush, who took many snaps as a freshman last year, will battle for time at quarterback.
Josh Andreasen is the fullback and Beau Chadwick and Junior Martinez provide a one-two punch at tailback.
The line is big. Center Chad Shoulders anchors the bunch. On the right side, it’s Cody Stackpole and Chris Chase. On the left, look for big Ben Smith and David Lewis.
The tight end is Peter Van Dyke. The wideouts are Fran Saucedo and Alex Vu.
There’s more beef on defense. Coach Engle will be using a 4-4 formation. The ends are John Wahrer and Travis Scholl and the tackles are Smith and Clay Stackpole. The two middle linebackers are Cody Stackpole and Andreasen, while Shoulders and Junior Martinez will patrol the outside.
The Huskies have speed in the secondary with corners Saucedo and Chadwick and Adrian Martinez at safety.
The Huskies are coming off a strong scrimmage Saturday morning against Hayden and Summit, which has only led to more optimism in the Huskies camp.
“The expectation of this team is that we play together,” Engle said. “We play hard and we fight to the end and we let the chips fall where they may. If we do everything we need to do, good things should happen.”
That all starts Friday night in Gypsum.
Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or by e-mail at email@example.com.