Vail Valley football: Battle Mountain beats Steamboat, 12-7
Vail, CO Colorado
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – A lot of things have happened in the last 18 years, but Friday’s Battle Mountain-Steamboat Springs football game saw a first.
The punching bag finally got its revenge.
Not since 1992 had the Huskies beaten the Sailors, a string of years and games where Battle Mountain football wasnπt even the bridesmaid. Usually, the Huskies werenπt even invited to the wedding.
But Friday at Gardner Field, on another unseasonably warm October night, the Huskies rode the legs of Chris Libertini – who wasnπt born the last time Battle Mountain beat Steamboat – to a 12-7 victory.
“Was it ’92?” Battle Mountain coach David Joyce asked, peachy in his demeanor. “That’s a long dang time. It means a lot. We finally finished a game. We were close all year. Rifle, we had a 14-point lead. Moffat, we had a 14-point lead in the second half. Delta we had a lead but we just couldn’t hold on. Finally we finished a game.”
But that eerie feeling of late game collapses had to creep in late in the game. After Battle Mountain jumped out to a 12-0 lead, a young Steamboat team never quit and battled.
The Sailors cut the Huskies lead to 12-7 with 8:59 left in the fourth quarter on a 7-yard Michael Savory touchdown run.
Steamboat (0-9 overall, 0-6 in the Slope) went three-and-out on its next possession before Battle Mountain picked up two first downs in the last two minutes to wrap up the game.
“If the kids weren’t trying there would be some panic or sadness,” said Steamboat coach Lonn Clementson, whose team often had as many as six sophomores on the field. “But we’re doing what we can. Once we get one, I just think things are going to happen.”
Youth and non-execution dotted the first half, however.
Although Steamboat’s defense played well, the offense did little to help. The Sailors gained 76 first half yards and had one first down. Steamboat had three, three-and-outs and an interception in five first-half possessions.
Still, the Sailors had an opportunity to take a first-quarter lead.
Sailors quarterback Christian Ramirez found Michael Savory for a 49-yard gain midway through the first quarter to set Steamboat up first and 10 at the Battle Mountain 22-yard line. But a run, a holding penalty and two short passes later and the Sailors turned the ball over on downs.
After the teams traded possessions, Battle Mountain (2-7, 1-5) finally put a drive together midway through the second quarter. Quarterback Jake Engle found Reeve Sanders up the left sidelines for a 41-yard touchdown to make it 6-0. The play capped off a 10-play, 89-yard drive that took 4:02 off the clock.
The Huskies missed two golden opportunities to extend the lead near the end of the half. Battle Mountain moved inside the Steamboat 10-yard line on successive drives to end the half, but each time failed on field goals.
Steamboatπs offense played much better in the second half. The Sailors gained 140 of its 216 total yards in the second half. On the ground, the Sailors were even better, running for 125 second-half yards after just 22 in the first half.
Still it was the legs of Libertini that won the game. With Steamboat usually leaving only five guys in the box, the junior gained 151 yards on 28 carries. His 56-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter proved to be the difference.
“For a sec, I was like ‘All right, boys, it’s about to be the same game where we botch it,” Libertini said. “But then our team pulled through and found some heart. This win will help us move towards next year. It was a big win for us.”
Steamboat was led by the running of Dylan Preston and Maury Mirante. The two juniors combined for 107 yards on 21 carries, 99 of those yards coming in the second half.
“We’re just not to the point where opportunities are given to us and we take advantage of those,” Clementson said. “I just really feel strongly that although weπre winless, that really good things are happening. I know that sounds like a contradiction, but we got some really good things happening.”
The two teams now prep for rivalry games. Battle Mountain plays at 7 p.m. Friday at home against Eagle Valley, while Steamboat travels for a 7 p.m. game Friday at Moffat County.
To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.