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Huskies fall to 1A Cowboys

EAGLE-VAIL – William Shatner said in the movie, Airplane II, “Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes.”

Such irony was in play Friday night in the fourth quarter between Battle Mountain and Plateau Valley at Huskies Stadium.

Down 19-6, the Huskies’ Chad Shoulders made a big interception, setting up a 31-yard touchdown drive for Battle Mountain. The Huskies trailed just 19-12 with 11:21 left.

But Plateau Valley’s Darren Minter returned the ensuing kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown and a 25-12 lead.

“We’re sitting there, ready to go and, all of a sudden, boom, you’re down 25-12,” Huskies head coach Pat Engle said. “It was big momentum swing and, unfortunately, we were on the wrong end of it. We were close to breaking a couple of our kickoffs, but we didn’t. Coulda, woulda and shoulda won’t get you anywhere.”

Enter Shatner’s thoughts on irony. Plateau Valley’s special-teams coach is none other than Duane Butcher, who was fired as Battle Mountain’s head coach after a 1-9 season in 2001.

Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes.

Class 1A Plateau Valley has been on the Huskies schedule for the last four years for a reason. Coming into Friday night’s game, three of Battle Mountain’s six wins during the last three years had been against the Cowboys.

That string ended on Friday night as the 1A Cowboys beat the 3A Huskies 25-12, in an embarassing defeat.

“I don’t care what people say,” Engle said. “It really doesn’t matter to me. I don’t care. I’m not out here to win a popularity contest. I could care less what the state says when they look at that score. It doesn’t really matter. Our kids competed. Bottom line.”

The Huskies did compete, but this was one they had to have. With the most of the 3A Slope as well as Valley and Sanford looming on the schedule – not to mention a road game at Silver Creek next week – Battle Mountain needed a win under their belt.

Of course, the season is not over. There is lots of football to be played, especially if Engle has a say.

“I just told them to keep the faith. We moved the ball all over the field on these guys, he said. “In the second half, (Plateau Valley) made some great adjustments, an shut us down for a little while. We were a little too-little, too-late. Obviously, our poor tackling in the second half hurt us. We had them in third-and-longs, they continually got first downs. This is just a game of focus. It seems sometimes, they had just a little more focus on offense than we did.”

The Huskies played solidly in a scoreless first quarter, but were hurt by those lapses in focus – particularly on some dropped passes. Midway through the second, the Huskies’ defense produced a nice three-and-out and the offense got the ball on the Cowboys’ 48.

Junior Martinez had three nice runs, totalling 31 yards – he finished the day with 21 carries for 157 yards – and fullback Josh Andreasen finished it off with a 11-yard scoring run.

But, Battle Mountain’s 6-0 lead lasted about 90 seconds. In the beginning of a disturbing pattern of not-wrapping-up, Cowboys’ quarterback Mike Murillo scrambled for 28 yards. Valde Villereal, in for the injured Fred Lizama, went another 44 yards down to the Huskies’ 1. Villereal led all rushers with 19 carries for 186 yards. Murillo called his own number and the game was tied, going into halftime.

Special teams again haunted the Huskies in the third quarter, when Plateau Valley’s Jesse Stites blocked a Battle Mountain punt. That gave the Cowboys the ball on the Huskies’ 22 and Plateau Valley didn’t waste the opportunity. The Cowboys needed just four plays, capped by an 8-yarder from Murillo, and it was 12-6.

The Huskies went three-and-out on their next possession and the Cowboys were off to the races. This time, it was a six-play, 44-yard drive. Jacob Click did the honors and the Cowboys led, 19-6.

The pilot light flickered for the Huskies on the final play of the third quarter when Shoulders made his interception. Martinez finished that drive with a nice, 14-yard run, pulling the Huskies to within 19-12 – and a comeback was in sight.

But then, well, irony can be pretty ironic sometimes.

Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or by e-mail at cfreud@vaildaily.com.


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