Hedrick, Gray named all-league
EAGLE-VAIL – Win some games in you league and watch what happens.Battle Mountain football’s all-league contingent is usually reserved to a few token honorable mention selections. But by putting up a 3-5 mark in the 3A Slope, the team’s best mark since 1995, the Huskies turned some heads when it came to all-league voting this fall.Running back Ryan Hedrick and offensive lineman Mitch Gray are on the first team. Punky Carlos, Travis Roach and Andrew Martinez garnered honorable mention honors, making it five Huskies on the Slope’s honor roll. “My flrst year in the league, we finished ninth out of nine. The year before was seventh. This year was (tied for) fifth,” Huskies head coach Pat Engle said. “We missed the playoffs by one victory, and with that comes more accolades for your team, and a little more respect within the league itself.””It definitely reflects that we’re turning this program around,” Hedrick said. “We’re not a team that’s under the radar. We’re a football team that’s noticed by coaches, and not just looked as a win on the schedule.”Beat Moffat County, Montezuma-Cortez and Glenwood Springs, and that will happen.
Dynamic duoHedrick’s selection is no surprise. When you run the ball 196 times for 1,331 yards and 12 touchdowns in what amounted to 8 1/2 games, that will catch the attention of opposing coaches.What was an observant pick from the Slope’s coaches was Gray. When No. 33 went for big yardage, it was often behind the blocking of Gray.”My offensive line was always was my No. 1,” Hedrick said. “Without them, I’m not a good running back. I’m not the fastest guy, not the biggest guy. They definitely did what they needed to let me perform.”It goes along with Mitch. We’re a duo. He’d always lead for me and I would always take his blocks just as they came. He was the big kid leading the way. That’s what you need.”
When the Huskies’ power-I was cranking, it was Hedrick chewing up the ground and Gray clearing the road.Gray won the coaches’ Sledgehammer Award last winter as well as for the season itself. Though the staff does not give out an MVP award, the Sledgehammer goes to the player who works the hardest, especially in the weight room.That was a primary reason Gray picked up the honor last winter. Despite playing hockey, Gray never missed a voluntary workout with the football team.”Mitch has been one of those kids whom you get to coach once every so often in your coaching career,” Engle said. “If there was a Most Valuable Player, we certainly understand who our kids are and who are very valuable to our football team. Mitch was that kid.””It’s pretty good,” Gray said. “I got honorable mention last year, so I was kind of expecting it. I wasn’t guaranteeing myself that it would happen. I was kind of thinking it would happen.”The good news for Huskies fans is that Hedrick, a junior, will be back for another season. Engle expects that he will be one of the top returning backs in the state.”There’s going to be a need for some of our young lineman to step up in the weight room and to get themselves big and strong,” Engle said. “But Ryan was able to accomplish all his rushing statistics behind an offensive line which essentially had only one returning starter from last year which was Mitch Gray.”
Punky, Bug and MartinezIf a 300-pound nose tackle plows through two guys and no one’s in the stands to watch, does he really make a sound? Punky (Jose) Carlos certainly did this year.Carlos blew up offensive fronts all year as a nose tackle. What scared opponents was not only his size, but his agility and speed. Carlos was such a solid athlete that Engle inserted him and Jamie Hijmans on power running packages on offense.”Sitting in the all-league meeting, every coach acknowledged that they had to recognize him for what he was on the football field,” Engle said. “They had to account for him on every single play.”If you didn’t see Roach play this year, you simply weren’t watching. Bug, as he’s better known to teammates, was on special teams, a receiver on offense and a safety on defense.
He was also a student of the game. Engle said that Roach combed game DVDs each week and was able to contribute to upcoming game plans. Through all this, Roach gutted through a knee injury during the second half of the season.”The kid has a heart of a lion,” Engle said. “It’s one of those clichés. Travis is one of those kids you want in your foxhole. He’s going to give everything he has to take care of you, and you’d do the same for him.”Andrew Martinez likely reminded longtime Huskies’ fans of Pat Martinez. Though not related, the two were very similar in stature and ferocious playing style. Andrew Martinez was not physically imposing – at least until he hit somebody.And he caught people’s attention with that style of play.”The coaches in the league really pushed hard for him for all-league because they recognized this little guy was out there for Battle Mountain,” Engle said. “They couldn’t account for him. They couldn’t block him. They just recognized his toughness.”Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.