Rifle doubles up Huskies
EAGLE-VAIL – Both Rifle and Battle Mountain got what they wanted out of Friday night’s game at Phelan Field.Rifle (6-4 overall and 6-2 in the 3A Slope) got its third consecutive win, a 26-13 victory over the Huskies, to generate some momentum for the playoffs. Having been outscored 77-0 in the last two years against the Bears, Battle Mountain (2-8, 1-7) played a solid game against the Bears and finished the fourth quarter with two scores.”It was good to end the season with three consecutive victories,” Rifle coach Damon Wells said. “It’s good the kids are rewarded with that. … We could finish second. We could finish third. We could finish fourth. I just need the scores.”Well, Coach, here you go – Moffat County 30, Montezuma-Cortez 20 and Steamboat Springs 10, Glenwood Springs 0. That means Rifle finishes fourth in the Slope and is at Northridge, a 19-7 winner over Niwot Friday night.That having been said Rifle won the state title out of the fourth spot last year.”I told the guys we aren’t defending anything,” Wells said. “We’re going out to get another one. That’s how we approach it.”A simple approachRifle’s approach to Battle Mountain was very simple and effective – give the ball to Colby McFarlin and Tyler Thompson. McFarlin ran the ball 20 times for 100 yards, while Thompson bulled his way for 55 yards on 13 touches, including three touchdowns.”It was great,” Thompson said. “Everybody laid it out there and did a good job.”
On Rifle’s second possession, quarterback Tyler Gose called his own number for 39 yards and six – the PAT was no good.In the second quarter, Rifle marched nine plays for 65 yards and a touchdown. The key play of the drive was a halfback option from Bryce Enewald to Andrew Schmidt for 47 yards. Thompson finished the drive with a 5-yard rumble. The Bears led, 20-0, at the half after another drive that had a lot of McFarlin and Thompson. The latter scored with 1:41 left in the half.The Bears chewed up most of the third quarter and the early part of the fourth with a 16-play march. And in a shocking development, Thompson scored the final touchdown on that drive.”We were pretty efficient moving the ball,” Wells said. “We certainly would have liked to have put more points on the board.”A good finishInstead of being road kill for Rifle as Battle Mountain has been the last two years, the Huskies kept with the defending state champs. In the last two weeks, Battle Mountain’s defense held Palisade and Rifle, the last two state champs, to just 52 points.”When you give up 52 points, most people think that’s in one game, not combined against both of them,” Huskies coach Pat Engle said. “We’ve just gotten so much better and so much tougher.”The Huskies showed that grit with another good defensive performance Friday. The problem was, as it has been for most of the season, was that the offense had a hard time generating drives, leaving the defense on the field too long.The offense’s struggles are understandable, given that quarterback Mike Janssen, fifth on the depth chart at the beginning of the season – if the chart was even that deep, was making all of his fifth start behind center. By the way, he was the center last year.
Janssen and company generated some offense and some cheers late with two scoring drives. Travis Landauer, who led all rushers with 127 yards on 16 carries, pounded away at Rifle and eventually scored on a 27-yard rumble.”We’ve seen that out of him,” Engle said. “He’s been such a workhorse.”Engle made sure to give the beef up front big praise. Billy Shue filled in for the injured Jamie Hijmans, as did Freddy Wickes for Elan Jones. Punky Carlos, Johnny Wahrer and Zach Steinbach all blew open holes.Engle happily eats his wordsBattle Mountain recovered the onside kick and capitalized. Landauer rumbled 8 yards and likely had the hit of the game with a helmet-to-helmet thwack which sent a piece of a Bears’ player head gear flying high into the air.That set it up for Janssen. Now a senior, Janssen wanted to play quarterback his sophomore year, Engle’s first with the program. The coach ruled that out in no uncertain terms.”I said, ‘You will never, ever play quarterback here,” Engle said with a laugh after Friday’s game.Well, Janssen became the quarterback this year and he hooked up with Todd Walker for 45 yards and his first career touchdown pass.”He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do,” Engle said. “It’s never easy to be a quarterback and it’s never easy to be my quarterback. I have high expectations for my quarterback and Mike certainly fulfilled those.”
SeniorsFriday was the final game for seniors Janssen, Joe Ortega, Steinbach and Wahrer.”For Zach, Mike and Johnny, those are three who’ve been with me when I got here. Joe Ortega was such a great move-in,” Engle said. “I’d love to have all of those guys for another four years For all those kids, college football is an option. They all have good grades. There’s a place for them somewhere.”While that quartet will be missed, the future is bright for Huskies football. Despite going 2-8 for the second year in a row, Battle Mountain unquestionably improved from Week 1 to Week 10 in 2005.”In years past, I’ve kind of been ready for the season to be over,” Engle said. “I’d still love to be coaching these guys next week.”Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14630 or via email@example.com.Vail, Colorado