Huskies Extra: More on the Steamboat game
EDWARDS – OK, the bad news first. Rifle hung on to beat Palisade, 36-33, Friday night. The Bears are the champions of the 3A Slope for 2011, and congratulations to them.
(And if you’re wondering, even if Rifle loses to Glenwood Springs next week, it would still hold the head-to-head tiebreakers with Battle Mountain and Palisade, having beaten both.)
That was the only damper on a rather happy Senior Night for Battle Mountain football as the Huskies did a number on Steamboat Springs, 61-22.
Coach David Joyce says that “mathematically it would be almost impossible” for the Huskies to miss the playoffs, even with a loss at Eagle Valley next week, so, while there is plenty of business left to do in the Huskies’ minds, Friday was a night for celebrating how far the Huskies have come these last four football seasons – from 0-10 in 2008 to 8-1 in 2011.
“It goes by quick. It really does. I had parent-teacher conferences last night with the Childers and they’re telling me about Colby graduating (college) in May,” Joyce said. “It just seems like yesterday, he was graduating from here, and now, these guys, this is their Senior Night. I remember them as freshman just putting everything they had into varsity on Friday night and looking me in the eye and keeping their heads up. You could see that they were going to be there. They have been. It’s just really good.”
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Pregame ceremonies were awfully long – kudos to announcer Rohn Robbins – because the team has 17 seniors, most of whom have helped turn football around at Battle Mountain.
“We’ve been playing as team and as a family, Jake (Engle) and all of us, for the last five years,” senior Chris Libertini said. “I think we owed this game to ourselves and our families. I felt good to be side-by-side with Jake and Carl (Hamrick) and Reeve (Sanders) and all those guys. It felt great.”
“It’s good feeling,” said Sanders, who scored four times. “Ever since I was a freshman, I was thinking about being a senior and playing your last year. It was good to end it against Steamboat Springs.”
• That would be because Battle Mountain had a score to settle against the Sailors. Two years ago, the Sailors were cruising to the state-title game, and did a bit of a number on Battle Mountain, including practicing its two-point conversion plays when the game was well out of hand. There was also the fact that CBS broadcaster Verne Lundquist, who lives in Steamboat Springs, just happened to have a little chuckle on a national broadcast about how the Sailors beat the Huskies, 61-21.
That occurred during a Florida-Arkansas game, and watching Arkansas college football games is a sacred thing for the Joyce family, and the coach was none too pleased.
“We took it easy on them,” Joyce joked. “Just two years ago, they beat us 61-21 and it was 61-22 tonight. They scored one more point.”
Joyce played the Lundquist clip for the team before the game and the Huskies went for two five times.
• Battle Mountain rested linebacker John Morella (arm) to get him ready for the playoffs. Chris Duran filled in capably, though Steamboat did understandably key on him with some success early.
• So what was better? Sanders’ four touchdowns or his punt return?
“I don’t know,” Sanders said. “It’s hard question.”
Indeed, because Sanders probably ran more horizontally than vertically on that play and still managed to gain 30 yards. He left a ton of Steamboat defenders as well as KZYR’s Steve Leigh and Weez in his wake. The kid’s a video game.
• So next week is the mother of all football games – Battle Mountain at Eagle Valley. We’ll break it down next week, but what is nice is that guys like Libertini and Timmy Licciardi get to play in the Week 10 contest. Both were hurt last season and missed the game. Libertini also missed the game his sophomore year with a broken leg.
“I am 100 percent healthy,” Libertini said with a big smile. “Yes, I can play Eagle Valley for the first time. It’s been a while. They’re our biggest rivals, and I’m so excited I get to play them.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.