Game on: Devils at Huskies Friday night
Game on: Devils at Huskies Friday night
In breaking news about tonight’s Eagle Valley at Battle Mountain football game at 6 in Edwards, there is mercifully no breaking news.
Eagle Valley will play Battle Mountain tonight — until that changes at about 5:45 p.m. (Kidding.) A reminder — watch the game on High Five Access Media, aka http://www.highfivemedia.com, aka channel 5 on television. No fans will be allowed.
But instead of logistics, it’s time to talk about the game.
The 2019 edition of the Eagle Bowl actually lived up to the billing, which is rare in this series.
Battle Mountain led 15-14 during the fourth quarter when the Huskies’ Elijah Morales picked off Devils quarterback Will Geiman. That set up what seemed to be a game-icing drive. The Huskies’ Anthony Sanchez rolled 66 yards to put his team deep in Devils’ territory.
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On third-and-goal from the Devils’ 6, Sanchez fumbled. Geiman and Matt Lee took it from there. Geiman led the Devils 97 yards in the final minutes for the 22-15 win, and that drive included two big pitch-and-catch throws to Lee.
Last year’s game established Geiman as Eagle Valley’s field general. It also has probably motivated Sanchez for the last 365 days or so. We’re thinking he’s pretty pumped up for tonight.
A win for either team makes the season. At 1-3, this hasn’t been the season Eagle Valley envisioned. The Devils had to stop before they started, missing the first two games of the season with COVID-19 quarantine.
That essentially put Eagle Valley in an 0-2 hole as the Devils lost to Green Mountain, 35-20, and 28-27 to Conifer. Two weeks into the season, Eagle Valley was essentially knocked out of postseason contention.
The Green Mountain loss — the Rams were playing in their third game of the season, while it was Eagle Valley’s opener — looks more and more like a case of rust after Battle Mountain beat Green Mountain, 29-15, last week.
If Eagle Valley continues its winning ways in the rivalry, the Devils can legitimately say that COVID-19 messed up their season and 2-3, capped by a win against Battle Mountain, was good campaign.
Meanwhile, Battle Mountain, after a horrendous 0-4 start, has won two in a row. The Huskies recorded their first win over a 4A school by blasting Liberty, 41-0. Last week, as mentioned, they looked darn good against Green Mountain.
Were Battle Mountain to win tonight, it goes 3-4 after an 0-4 start, and the program shows that it’s heading in the right direction, no small feat in Edwards.
We are entering a Battle Mountain-Eagle Valley game, and the Huskies are running the double wing, while the Devils pass the ball. What the fudge is happening here?
Sorry, still weird.
Having acknowledged these offensive anomalies, Eagle Valley can beat you several ways, including this new concept known as the forward pass. (This is in no way a dis at longtime Devils coach John Ramunno. As you’ll see, we’re big fans of the run.)
The bigger question is will Eagle Valley throw? The Devils’ passing attack can be effective and the decisive factor in tonight’s game. Geiman has the targets in Eric Halsey, Erich Petersen and Anthony Vasquez.
Watch Geiman’s positioning as he throws. Straight out of the shotgun, he gets his feet and shoulders behind his throws and they are on target. If he has to scramble outside of the pocket, keep and an eye on his feet and his ability to square his shoulders. If he doesn’t, this is whence turnovers come.
If Eagle Valley throws successfully, the Devils will be able to outscore the Huskies.
The thing is the Devils can probably win on their ground game as well. Eagle Valley has a good offensive line and backs in Daniel Gallegos and Sebastian Witt.
Options abound for the Devils.
Truthfully, it’s going to be surprising if Battle Mountain quarterback Kai Haggen throws the ball much. Do credit him with some tough runs the last two weeks. The kid hasn’t been afraid to lower his shoulder for a few extra yards.
Battle Mountain will try to eat clock by running early and often. It keeps Eagle Valley’s offense off the field and shortens the game.
That said, we would never accuse Battle Mountain’s offense of being dull. This is speculation only — but Jim Schuppler’s coaching history dictates that there will be surprises. Bet your 401(k) that the Huskies will have some tricks up their collective sleeve.
The most important factor for the Huskies is avoiding mistakes — be they turnovers or penalties. Battle Mountain does not have an offense that can afford to get behind the sticks.
Both teams have playmakers. Eagle Valley’s Lisandro Aguilar and Battle Mountain’s Morales immediately come to mind. Eagle Valley’s Branden Vigil? Yep. Battle Mountain’s Marshall Jones? Yep.
No one’s pitching a shutout tonight. This is about defenses just making a stop or three and forcing the occasional turnover.
Along those lines, we issue the standard rivalry disclaimer that whichever team calms down the quickest and starts playing football will win.
Whereas a lot of time coaches Gabe Brown and Schuppler need to give stemwinders in the locker room to pump up the troops before a game, tonight it isn’t necessary. If anything, shoot the players with an elephant-tranquilizer gun before this one.
Siblings go through these schools like crazy and the Battle Mountain coaching staff is no exception. Meet Paul Churchill. He’s an assistant coach for the Huskies in his first year.
Churchill is not new to Battle Mountain. He’s an alumnus and so is his brother Mark, Class of 1998. And if you know your Huskies trivia, you know that Mark Churchill was a 3A state champion in the pole vault 22 years ago.
If the Huskies win, we expect Paul Churchill to be vaulting.