Huskies swamp all-league rolls
Battle Mountain football has 11 all-league selections – seven first-teamers and four honorable mentions.
We’ll give you little time to clean up your spit take after reading that.
It’s amazing what happens when you go 9-2 and make the playoffs for the first time in a generation.
“It was awesome,” Huskies coach David Joyce said. “Eleven kids, that’s a football team.”
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• Reeve Sanders: Big surprise, huh? The nice surprise is that Sanders is not only all-league, but he is the 3A Slope’s Offensive Player of the Year.
OK, that really shouldn’t be a surprise either if one watched, say, the first 15 seconds of the season. He returned the opening kickoff of the season for a touchdown and didn’t stop his assault on the end zone.
He ended up playing defense in the D’Evelyn playoff game and had three interceptions.
What position couldn’t this guy play?
“Offensive line, he’d be a little light,” Joyce said. “But he’d give it a good effort.”
Sanders will be playing in the all-state game in June at Adams State.
• Chris Libertini: More lightning in the backfield. What made the Huskies’ offense so dangerous was that was the stable of running backs was so deep. Maybe not as fast as Sanders – that would be a fun race – Libertini was the elusive one, and it started with his signature shuffle.
What was really exciting for Libertini was that he stayed healthy in 2011, and finally got into an Eagle Valley game. He scored there, too.
• Zach Guida: When Libertini went down with a broken wrist in 2010 before that year’s Eagle Valley game, Guida got his chance, and he made the most of it. He became the thunder portion of Battle Mountain’s thunder and lightning.
Guida’s a big boy and hard to take down. And despite his size, he has wheels and nice breakaway sped. He also used that speed to win “First out of the Locker Room” in 2011.
• Jake Engle: Good selection here. The Huskies were planning on throwing early and often in 2011. The double-wing was a diversionary tactic, but it worked so well, they stuck with it.
Engle threw for more than 800 yards in the pass-happy Slope. More importantly, he did whatever the team needed him to do. The best quarterback in the league ended up being the lead blocker on a lot of players, clearing the road for the aforementioned trio. (We would say he blocked for Blaize Olle, but the junior seemed to run into the pile and out of the pile.)
• Eric Weiss: Want an interception? This is your guy. Maybe his brief stint as Battle Mountain’s quarterback in 2010 have him insight into the passing game. Don’t question it. Weiss was the quintessential ball hawk.
• Carl Hamrick: Cue up the “Too Legit to Quit.” Carl was “The Hammer” at linebacker. Those who came over the middle paid for it. Please note the selection of defensive players for Battle Mountain. These two won’t be the only ones, and with good reason. The offense was much-discussed, but the defense was why the Huskies won games this year.
• Tim Licciardi: A big part of the front seven on defense and the tight end on offense, this guy also shined on special teams. Like Weiss, Licciardi always found himself around the ball in all three phases of the game. He’s definitely an under-rated factor in the team’s success.
• Jordan Harrison: Yes, he played on the line on both sides of the ball, but defense was the guy’s forte. More specifically, Harrison liked to make mince meat of his blocker, and destroy the ball carrier – be it a running back or a quarterback.
• Sawyer Bluhm: The captain of the defense and another linebacker who made people pay. Being “Bluhmed” became a verb. Battle Mountain allowed just 16 points per game during the regular season after allowing 40 per game just two years ago.
• Paton Lovett: Yet another unsung hero on the defensive side of the ball. He was Weiss’ partner in crime when it came to passing game and laid out his fair share of opponents. He also could run and went off in The Classical Academy game.
• Rylie Babcock: Someone had to open those holes for the running backs, so Babcock, along with Harrison, represents the offensive line. As Sanders, Libertini, Guida and Olle always said in postgame interviews, they don’t go anywhere without the big guys up front.
• Dylan Baltierrez: Eagle Valley football didn’t have many seniors, but Baltierrez was the rock on both sides of the line for the Devils.
“The huge thing was that he was good leader for us,” Devils coach John Ramunno said. “The biggest thing about Dylan was that he worked hard every day. You could always count on him. He’s going to be successful in whatever he does with his good work ethic.”
• Ayren Hart: He moved into the district and made a distinct impression. The defensive end will be one of the pillars upon which the Devils hope to build in 2012.
• Andy Armstrong: He’s an honorable-mention selection at offensive and defensive tackle. And like a lot of the Devils he’s already jumped into winter sports.
“He’s a good wrestler,” Ramunno said.
And that would be praise from Caesar.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.