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Huskies football: Is this the year?

EAGLE-VAIL – Every fall since 1995, the team’s last state-playoff appearance, hope springs eternal in the camp of Battle Mountain football. And honestly by about midseason, the cold reality sets in.

That doesn’t diminish the optimism this time of year at Phelan Field, but begs the question, “Why is this year legitimately different for Huskies football?”

Quarterback Parke Robbins was quick to answer Wednesday.

“First of all, we’ve been practicing all summer,” the senior said. “Our numbers from last year have doubled. Second, we’re more experienced. We graduated only four seniors, and we all played a lot last year. We’ve got a new defense and a new offense and fresh starters on both sides of the ball. It’s going to be good.”

So with apologies to Cubs fans, the Huskies think this really could be the year. Battle Mountain begins to find out on Sept. 4 when it hosts Summit County at Phelan Field in Eagle-Vail. (As an FYI, the Huskies move into their new digs in Edwards for a Sept. 25 game against Highland.)

Rest for the weary

The Huskies know that their program has been in hibernation for a while. Battle Mountain went 0-10 last year and are 15-75 dating back to 2000. Included in those last nine seasons are two 4-6 campaigns (2000 and 2006), so one can start to do the math on what happened during some of the other years.

But one legitimate reason for optimism is that coach David Joyce will not have his guys playing on both sides of the ball this year. As Robbins did last year as a quarterback and in the secondary, not to mention handling the punting, this is just brutal.

“It’s like playing 20 games,” Robbins joked.

Battle Mountain also developed a serious offensive threat in Robbins, who again will be under center. Joyce feels he has built more threats around Robbins this year which will hopefully prevent defenses from sitting on him as they did in 2008.

Chris Libertini and Jon Simpson will line up in the backfield. Jake Engle, Cody Hervert and Robert Martinez are penciled in at receiver, and the team hopes to get Reeve Sanders back from a broken collar bone by midseason.

Up front, Timmy Licciardi anchors the line at center. R.D. Cordova and Donnie Cuomo (after missing all last season with an injury) man the right side of the line. The left side is Babcock Country. Riley’s at left guard and Mason’s at left tackle.

A run-oriented team last year, Joyce insists the Huskies will mix it up on offense.

“For Parke, the sky’s the limit,” Joyce said. “This year, we have a lot more weapons around him. He might not have to carry the load as much, but when he does run the ball it should free him up.”

On defense, the tackles are Luis Leiva and Mike Brown. On the ends, it’s Devon Christie and Jeffrey Fuller.

Kevin Ojeda, Matt Granzow, Carl Hamrick and Colby Childers are competing for time at linebacker. Payton Lovett, Shawn Martinez, Geoff LeDon and Zach Guida make up the secondary.

“We’re going to show multiple fronts,” Joyce said. “We’re going to be an attacking defense. We’re not going to be bullied.”

Staying off the sidelines

As is the customary talk at Battle Mountain, one key will be health. The Huskies have more depth than usual, but all things being equal, they would rather not have to test it.

There is also the fact that this team doesn’t have much experience in winning. The Huskies were in games last year against Moffat County, Highland and Montezuma-Cortez with a chance to win, only to end up with the short end of the stick.

“I think what is different is the leadership of the seniors,” Joyce said. “Everyone has bought in. We’re really going to try to dictate what the other team does.”

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.


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