Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain finally produce a classic
The rivalry is actually a rivalry
As seems usual in my sports-fan existence, I root for the team that comes tantalizingly close to being good, only to fall to pieces.
With the exception of the apocalyptic success earlier this decade, the San Francisco Giants are that team, good enough to tease you, but always breaking your heart.
The San Francisco 49ers did that to me Monday night, giving up 21 points off three turnovers in a 27-24 loss to Seattle in overtime.
And this outlook on sporting matters brings us to last weekend’s Eagle Valley-Battle Mountain football game, a thrilling 22-15 Devils’ win.
I feel for Battle Mountain losing, but this does not make Eagle Valley the Seattle Seahawks, or, perish the thought, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
What a game on Friday night.
Ain’t it great …
• Let’s first start with the fact that it was, in fact, thrilling. Having been here since the fall of 1997, this game is usually a lopsided affair, usually in Eagle Valley’s favor. Before Friday, Eagle Valley was clinging to a 14-6 lead in the series with two of the Huskies’ wins coming in 1997.
Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley played a nonconference game in Week 1, and both had open dates the same weekend when Glenwood Springs and Basalt dropped to JV that season, so the two schools played again.
The true count was really 16-6 because the two teams played scrimmages in 2001 and 2002, and keeping score in scrimmages is against the rules – Eagle Valley won both by a score of 50-something-to-the-token-lone-final-drive-touchdown.
So first off, how cool was it to see the rivalry game come down to Eagle Valley needing a 97-yard drive to overcome a 15-14 deficit? (I suppose very cool for Eagle Valley fans, and not so much for Battle Mountain partisans.)
Given the lack of offense in the first 43 or so minutes, did anyone outside of that huddle think the Devils could go 97 yards? You’re lying.
• Eagle Valley had been trying to get the ball to Matt Lee without success for most of the game, including a pitch play that met with little success.
And then two long passes, including the game-winner. Good throw by Will Geiman. Great effort by Lee to make it to the end zone.
• Speaking of Geiman, the kid’s a sophomore. (By the way, you’re all kids to me now.) In the fine tradition of me, I made him a year older in a previous article. I seem to do this with Devils’ quarterbacks. Jesse Moser was a senior in his junior year, according to me, and he finally graduated last spring.
Back to Geiman, while it’s tough starting as a sophomore, it’s going to be nice the next two years,
With the caveat that everyone on both teams needs to hit the weight room — like right now — Eagle Valley is returning most of the nucleus of this 5-5 team.
Get to work now.
I’m in the Battle Mountain shared football/soccer locker room on Tuesday to interview coach David Cope after the local 11 had just beaten Montrose. I see Huskies football coach Jim Schuppler and jokingly — again, jokingly — ask him if he has the flip play in for the Eagle Valley game.
He smiles and says, “Yes.”
You can call “Shoop” a lot of things, but a liar he ain’t. I never thought the Huskies would do that twice.
Yes, the Battle Mountain junior had the fumble that set up Eagle Valley’s game-winning drive. Hey, Anthony — You. Did. Not. Lose. The. Game.
In a one-score game over 48 minutes, there were 1,000 different turning points. Blaming you makes about as much sense at blaming Kiah Gongaware for breaking his collarbone a few weeks ago and not being able to play against Eagle Valley. It’s not like he wanted to get hurt, and you certainly didn’t want to fumble.
Anthony, you are a huge part of this team, having started since the beginning of your sophomore year. Lean on your teammates to get through this and use it to make you stronger. You’re going to be a senior next fall and one of the leaders of this team and you’re going to grow from this into a better player and person.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.