How are Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley going to finish this fall? We’ve got the answers right here |

How are Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley going to finish this fall? We’ve got the answers right here

Give it up for the sisters. Naomi, in front, and Lizzy Harding head Battle Mountain girls cross-country's big for an eighth regional title in a row.
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This is a really stupid idea for a column, but what the heck?

I do this at the start of every season of every year at my desk, but never make it public — my predictions for the Western Slope.

There is foolishness in this because high school sports are so much less predictable than professional or even college sports. Unless Tom Brady has a Brett Favre- or Peyton Manning-like falling off the cliff or succumbing to age moment, the New England Patriots are going to win the AFC East and be in the hunt. Alabama is making the College Football Playoff because it’s Alabama.

High school sports? Ask any coach of any season and they’ll tell you a teenager can be focused on a sport one day and more interested in a pizza and movies the next. This gives high school sports the unpredictability that makes it a joy to cover.

This is not the be all and end all. To the Devils and Huskies, please feel free to prove me wrong. Tack this up in locker rooms as motivation. You wanna tell me to do something that is anatomically impossible with myself to motivate yourselves? I am here to serve.

Cross-country (girls)

Class 4A Region 1 (Top five)

1. Battle Mountain

2. Eagle Valley

3. Steamboat Springs

4. Golden

5. Evergreen

First, off, this is awesome. It is a rare moment in my 20 or so years here to have Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley battling more than for just bragging rights, but for a title. The last time we had Huskies and Devils deciding a title was 2014 volleyball with the Huskies nipping the Devils — both teams were 12-2 in league play.

Before that you have to go to 2008 boys soccer with the Devils winning the Slope, but having their only two league losses at the hands of … the Huskies.

Eagle Valley’s Joslin and Samantha Blair obviously made a statement going 1-2 at last week’s Cheyenne Mountain Stampede with Avery Doan in eighth.

The question come regionals, which are at the Willow Creek Par-3 in October, is depth. The Huskies seem to have it, while the Devils are still looking for it beyond their Big Three.

Battle Mountain’s Big Three of Naomi and Lizzy Harding and Grace Johnson are unmatched when it comes to postseason experience and accomplishments within the team realm, be it cross-country or track and field.

We install Joslin Blair as the local favorite for the individual state title after 14th- and seventh-place finishes her first two years. Don’t be surprised if the Harding sisters throw their hats into the ring by the time coach Rob Parish works his tapering magic in October.

While we don’t hesitate to call for Battle Mountain to eight-peat at regionals, this meet will be deep. Steamboat Springs finished second in Class 3A and is moving up to 4A. Golden was a top 10 finisher at state and Evergreen has some serious young talent.

Cross-country (boys)

Class 4A Region 1 (Top five)

1. Evergreen

2. Central

3. Battle Mountain

4. Eagle Valley

5. Glenwood Springs

Battle Mountain boys cross-country has been living with a terrible regional outing for about a year now. The boys didn’t qualify as a team for the first time since … That is really a blot on the program’s standard and a powerful motivator.

Battle Mountain’s scoring five were senior David Reilly and four juniors at Cheyenne Mountain last week. And more help is coming as freshman Sullivan Middaugh will likely be getting a start or two after this weekend’s Battle Mountain Invitational.

Fun fact: Battle Mountain first-years aren’t allowed to run varsity in the first two races of the season. Liz Constien, Alex Raichart, both Hardings and Johnson all ran JV their first few races. They turned out to be decent runners. That young punk Jonny Stevens ran JV too, back in the day.

Evergreen is the defending champ and deserves the top billing. Grand Junction Central comes down from 5A and is a force. Our crystal ball has both local teams going to the big dance, though.


3A Western Slope

1. Palisade

2. Glenwood Springs

Battle Mountain

4. Summit County

5. Eagle Valley

6. Steamboat Springs

This may be called the Western Slope, but it really is the Palisade League. The Bulldogs can tell you before the play that they’re running off left and still gain 12 yards. They’re bigger and better than everyone in this league, and simply take football more seriously.

Glenwood Springs went 2-8 last year with well-documented forfeit losses. The Demons are a hacked off team with a new coach, Pat Engle, who was the head man at Battle Mountain from 2003-06, who knows what he’s doing.

If his years with the Huskies are any indication, then Engle’s Demons are going to be physical and run-oriented. (Anyone remember ADT and the 300- and 3,000-packages?)

As for the local squads, while I put Battle Mountain third, I do not do so confidently, especially after a less-than-impressive showing against Middle Park last weekend. You should have run the Panthers out of town.

Yes, it was the first week and that was what first-week games are for, but it didn’t meet the eye test. Huskies football, you ain’t all that. This is just year No. 2 with coach Jim Schuppler, whom I do think is the answer for the woes of Battle Mountain football. However, he’s just the coach. More work, including this season, is needed.

Last year’s 0-10 Eagle Valley season was downright bizarre. Eagle Valley has been the football school in this county during my 20-plus years here. Since I have experienced several 0-10s (ahem, Battle Mountain), it’s going to take a while to dig out of this hole.

I am concerned with Eagle Valley’s overall size and numbers. Yes, the schedule is mercifully toned down for this CHSAA cycle, but attrition is a fact of life in the 3A Slope. Alameda, Niwot and Steamboat Springs are winnable games. As for Week 11 on Nov. 2 in Gypsum, Battle Mountain is the favorite — the Huskies did win, 44-0, last year — but it’s probably going to come down to who is the healthiest.


4A Western Slope

1. Battle Mountain

2. Steamboat Springs

3. Glenwood Springs

4. Summit County

5. Eagle Valley

6. Rifle

7. Palisade

The preseason talk deservedly has been with Steamboat Springs. The Sailors return Murphy Bohlmann, who is a stud, and, yes, the son of coach Rob Bohlmann.

That should give the edge to the Sailors over the Huskies, the defending champs in name only as their roster is almost a complete turnover.

Yet Battle Mountain has a habit of rebuilding on the fly. This is what a varsity program should be — a coach who’s been there forever, serious competition for playing time, a junior-varsity squad with a purpose and a developmental program with the Vail Valley Soccer Club.

Guys, don’t make a fool out of me.

Key dates: Huskies at Steamboat, Sept. 18; Steamboat at Huskies, Oct. 18.

Eagle Valley is rebuilding. As much as the Devils have given the Huskies fits in Gypsum in recent years, Eagle Valley has just three playoff appearances (2008, 2009 and 2015) since moving up to 4A back in 2004.

Eagle Valley’s struggles aren’t going to be solved immediately. Please do give coach Maggie Sherman a chance. She is deadly serious about instilling a soccer culture at the school, something that is needed desperately. She has the X’s and O’s. It’s up to the players to buy in. They’d be wise to do so.


4A Western Slope

1. Palisade

2. Eagle Valley

3. Steamboat Springs

4. Battle Mountain

5. Glenwood Springs

6. Summit County

7. Rifle

I will confess I am not super-confident here. First off, this conference is a mosh pit from Palisade on down to Glenwood Springs. All five of these teams can beat each other on a given night, and probably will.

Eagle Valley is the two-time defending champion, yet has graduated pretty much an all-star team during the last two years. That said, I like how the Devils have started — beating Montrose earlier this week means something. Let’s see how they do against strong competition this weekend at the Regis Jam.

For now, I go with Palisade over Eagle Valley. I’d love to be wrong.

Yes, Battle Mountain’s off to a 3-0 start. The reason I have the Huskies in fourth is that consistency has bedeviled this team for the last few years. If I had a nickel for every time coach Jason Fitzgerald has talked about unforced errors after a match, then I would be comfortably retired in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Until the Huskies start showing differently on the court against the Slope, I remain a skeptic.

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