Eagle Valley Devils call on Battle Mountain Huskies for Eagle River Rumble Friday, Oct. 27 | VailDaily.com

Eagle Valley Devils call on Battle Mountain Huskies for Eagle River Rumble Friday, Oct. 27

It's rivalry time at Eagle Valley football visits Battle Mountain on Friday, Oct. 27 in Edwards.
Townsend Bessent | Daily file photo |

So, is there a little football game coming up?

Yes, it’s the Eagle River Rumble, the Eagle County Championship, The Mother of all Football Games on Friday, Oct. 27, in Edwards. (Yes, this needs a good nickname like the college rivalries.)

It’s Eagle Valley at Battle Mountain at 7 p.m.

Our local squads haven’t lit it up this season, which is not surprising given the graduation turnover at Eagle Valley and, in a shocking development, Battle Mountain got a new coach.

• Trivia tidbit No. 1: Jim Schuppler is my 10th Battle Mountain coach in 21 football seasons here at the Vail Daily.

Eagle Valley is 0-8, while Battle Mountain enters 3-5 or 2-6 in games played on the gridiron. (Huzzah, for the forfeit against Glenwood Springs.)

• Trivia tidbit No. 2: The last time Eagle Valley entered this game with an 0-8 record was in 1998. The Devils beat Battle Mountain, 28-13, on a snowy night at Phelan Field (yet to be named) in Eagle-Vail.

So there’s that nice slap in the face to those Huskies fans who approach this game with a sense that this might be the year to beat the down-valley neighbors.

• Trivia tidbit No. 3: In the sports editor’s 21 seasons to date, we’ve had 19 Goliath encounters between the two teams and Eagle Valley leads 14-5. Two of Battle Mountain’s wins came in 1997. (The teams played a nonconference game in Week 1 — the Huskies were 3A and the Devils 2A at the time — and then both teams had a Week 7 bye, so scheduled Round 2 that year).

In 2000 and 2001, the teams didn’t play official games as 2A Eagle Valley’s schedule was nine conference games. The two teams scrimmaged in August both years. And, while of course, no one ever keeps score in scrimmages because that’s against CHSAA rules — no, sir — it was pretty apparent which school was better. As a hint, it rhymes with Eagle Valley.

The following will not happen

So what happens as the teams clash on Friday?

Here’s what won’t happen — Eagle Valley won’t warm up in Gypsum and then get off the bus in full pads in Edwards. Yes, Battle Mountain, under David Joyce, was playing in Gypsum in 2011 and did this. I’m driving down to Exit 140 and see a whole bunch of white jerseys on Battle Mountain turf warming up in Edwards and am very confused.

Once they got to Gypsum, the Huskies beat the Devils, 54-0, its last win in this series. Eagle Valley returned the favor in the same style, warming up in Gypsum and beating the snot out of the Huskies, 62-0, in Edwards in 2012. That is about the only time I have ever seen longtime former Devils coach John Ramunno start a game with a devilish grin.

Fun stuff.

Other fun stuff includes:

• The time the Huskies finally beat the Devils in 2009 — Eagle Valley had won nine in a row — and the Battle Mountain coaching staff decided to have their picture taken on one of the Avon roundabouts, riding the horses.

• The place kicker getting carried off the field in triumph after a 35-16 Devils’ win, as was the case in 2006. That was all me.

We had two sports writers at the time at the paper. Ian Cropp wrote why Eagle Valley would win. I wrote why Battle Mountain would win. I noted that Eagle Valley had struggled on extra points, and that could be a factor. Naturally, Eagle Valley freshman Miguel Holguin went 5-for-5 on PATs. Good job, Freud.

A battle for inches

OK, seriously now, this game is a battle of 6 inches, and we’re talking about the space between the ears of every player in this game.

Yes, all rivalry games are mental. Teams come in all pumped up, forget how to play the sport, and make mistakes, read turnovers. The rule generally is whoever calms down the soonest wins the game.

That does apply here, but both teams are carrying mental baggage into this one.

• Battle Mountain has shown flashes of good play this season. The Huskies have played well against good opponents such as Green Mountain, Rifle and Glenwood Springs.

The next step is figuring out how to win those games, believing in the system and themselves that it can be done. That’s a big obstacle for a program that knows, with the 2011 exception, nothing but losing.

Last week, the Huskies lost their top running back before the Palisade game, got that “here we go again” feeling and lost the game before kickoff. I would bet that the Bulldogs still would have won that game, had Battle Mountain bothered to show, because they’re Palisade.

But that cannot happen again for Battle Mountain as a program. And that’s the battle against Eagle Valley. In an objective comparison, yes, Battle Mountain can beat Eagle Valley. Do the Huskies actually believe it and follow through is the $64,000 question.

• Meanwhile, all has clearly not been well in Gypsum. I do note that the Devils have played a much tougher schedule than the Huskies. Had the schedule, done with last year’s team in mind, included Steamboat Springs and Roaring Fork, the Devils would be in the win column.

Yes, the Devils are beaten up and a young team that got younger as the season progressed. But there has to come a time that a team says, “No effing more.”

Be it ever so humble right now, this is the start of the next wave of Eagle Valley football. These are the guys who will be playing the next two or three years.

There has to be a collective decision in the locker room that, “This stops now. We are Eagle Valley and Eagle Valley beats Battle Mountain.”

See you at the game.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.

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