Huskies soccer players joining Huskies football with delayed season |

Huskies soccer players joining Huskies football with delayed season

And there's a new face on special teams

Battle Mountain's Louis Castillo is no stranger to the turf in Edwards, but he's playing football on it this fall.
Chris Dillmann |

During the 2012-13 basketball season, Battle Mountain played Eagle Valley and, with their team up late, Devils fans started to shout, “Just like football.”

Hearing the chant, Huskies goalie extraordinaire Christian Espinoza said, “What? We won state in football.”

Semantically, Espinoza was right. Battle Mountain has two types of football — the one with the pigskin and The Beautiful Game, and the Huskies indeed went 20-0 in the latter in 2012.

And usually, the two programs are battling for time on the turf in Edwards for practices and games, except, of course, COVID-19 has moved soccer to spring this school year, giving Battle Mountain soccer players a chance to join up with the football team.

So Battle Mountain football is coming to Battle Mountain football. Yes, Huskies soccer players are playing Huskies football this fall.

And, we might have buried the lead a little. Battle Mountain soccer coach David Cope is helping out football on special teams.

“Cope is a legacy around here. Are you kidding? I’ve been working on him for three years,” Battle Mountain football coach Jim Schuppler said. “Cope came to me with the idea, and he’s out of season. He’s a great coach, as we all know. We’re going to take him on and some of his bros are coming out with.”

As for the soccer coach at special teams for football?

“I think I’ve got the kicking part of it down,” Cope said.

The unspoken rivalry

Football and soccer have mixed before at Battle Mountain. The gridders are always looking for a kicker and soccer has provided, be it Kyle Moore, Cody Hervert, Heivan Garcia or Chase Keep, to name a few. Garcia has the distinction of being on the best football (2011, 9-2) team as well as the most-accomplished soccer team (2012, scoring the game-winner on kicks in the state final) in recent memory.

Credit Hervert with being the best all-around player. Hervert didn’t just kick, but played wide receiver and safety.

But now, here come the soccer players en masse.

Battle Mountain soccer meets Battle Mountain football.

“I really think it’s going to be helpful on a couple of different levels,” Schuppler said. “One is that soccer team can see we are for them and they are for us. I also think they bring some speed to the table, as well as obvious skills in the kicking game.”

While he and Cope are fierce advocates for multi-sport athletes at Battle Mountain, Schuppler also addressed the 800-pound gorilla in the room. There has always been a quiet tension between the two programs.

It’s never been openly hostile, but one can feel it between the two footballs.

“It’s cool to see the interaction between the players of both sports,” Cope said. “Kids are learning new skills and mutual respect.”

Midfielder Louis Castillo, who is one of the more accomplished soccer players out for football, is noticing the détente as well.

“It’s been pretty fun. It’s a good experience trying something new,” he said. “Over the years, we thought the football players weren’t very likeable guys, but they’re family and nice guys. They help us out and that’s what we didn’t see in soccer.”

Castillo is joined by Josh Keiser, Miles Jarnott, Ivan Solis, Sam Koontz, Will Bettenhausen, Owen MacFarlane, Cooper Skidmore, Gustavo Pacheco, Andres Silva and William Gerdes among others.

Coaching a new football

As for the team’s new coach, well, it was a surprise to a lot of people including Alan Cope, David’s dad.

“When I told my dad I was coaching American football, he said, ‘Excuse me, I didn’t hear that.’”

At 87 years young, Alan’s hearing is just fine.

The Copes moved from England when David was a tyke to the Pittsburgh area — “there’s a good pedigree of football there,” the soccer coach said — and soccer was always “football.” Yet there is a part of Cope who coaches in the fall because that’s what he’s been doing for nearly 30 years.

“I think part of it is Kathleen,” Cope said, referring to his wife. “She’s like, ‘What are you doing here? Why don’t you get out?’”

Yes, of course, she’s kidding, but this will be different. Catching or picking up the ball is encouraged in this sport. Tackling has a different meaning. The ball is meant to be kicked over the bar, not under it.

“If we do run a kick back and the last guy tackles our player, I’m going to want a red card,” Cope said.

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