Vail Valley football: Devils at Huskies Friday night
So we got a football game tonight or something?
It’s Eagle Valley at Battle Mountain at 7 in Edwards in the …
This rivalry needs a name. OU-Texas is the Red River Shootout. Alabama-Auburn is the Iron Bowl. I’m taking suggestions for this.
Eagle River Rumble?
That’s why I’m taking suggestions.
OK, breaking it down.
The Huskies enter at 2-7; the Devils at 2-6. Both teams’ wins were against Summit County and Steamboat Springs by similarly-tight margins. The Huskies and Devils, respectively, beat the Tigers, 7-0, and, 39-28, and the Sailors, 12-7, and, 21-12.
Objectively, Battle Mountain enters as the favorite, which, yes, is about as strange as, say, the San Francisco Giants winning the World Series.
(First, I had to work that in here. Come basketball season, Eagle Valley’s Zeth Ramsey or Battle Mountain’s Cody Hervert will “have a lay-up as sweet as a Edgar Renteria home run.” Second, I don’t care who wins this game. The only thing I’m rooting for is close game because it would be a more interesting game to cover.)
The Huskies are the favorite because they won last year’s game, 14-7, and they’ve been more competitive against the rest of the league, particularly in overtime losses to Moffat County and Delta.
This is going to be a stark contrast in styles offensively with likely Battle Mountain throwing the ball all over the place with quarterback Jake Engle and Eagle Valley probably trying to grind away (and eating the clock to keep Engle on the sidelines) with its double-wing behind Matt Kottenstette.
My bet is it comes down to whose defense can make the plays. The jury is out on both units.
Some thoughts for game night:
• Obviously, the Huskies won last year, but do they understand the implications of that down in Gypsum? For the purposes of tonight, Battle Mountain may have unlocked a monster by doing so.
The current Devils have grown up watching Eagle Valley, including a bunch of their older brothers, beat the snot out of Battle Mountain. Think they’ve heard from their older brothers about being the first ones to lose to the Huskies in 12 years?
Devils coach John Ramunno has the memory of an elephant – the guy’s face still transforms when he tells the story about how his 1985 Devils got whacked by Battle Mountain – and he doesn’t need to use it here. The mindset is that Eagle Valley simply does not lose to Battle Mountain in football.
We could go up and down the Eagle Valley roster, but take Kottenstette, a guy who doesn’t need much motivation in anything, has seen his older brothers win this thing. There’s no way in heck he wants to leave Gypsum, having lost to Battle Mountain his senior year.
The flip side of this question is how does Battle Mountain handle a game in which it should probably win? This is a situation that Huskies haven not been in much.
• OK, the Huskies have Engle back and have been a vastly batter team with him. No question there. We’ll throw out the Delta game because that was a swim meet more than a football game. Engle had a huge game against Moffat County with 300-plus yards and four TD passes. On the other hand, the Huskies scored only 12 points against sad-sack Steamboat as Engle was 9-for-19 with 144 yards and one touchdown.
Yes, this is very small sample size but Battle Mountain’s passing attack is not a sure thing yet. Can the Huskies produce tonight?
• And how does Eagle Valley defend here? Covering Reeve Sanders and Hervert is tough and weather.com says we’re going to have a clear track tonight in Edwards. Battle Mountain has a big-play offense and the Devils have given them up this season. The most efficient way of covering those receivers is to get Engle on his back. A pass rush from Eagle Valley is imperative tonight.
• Speaking of defense, as we go into tonight’s game, there are no mysteries with the Eagle valley offense-Battle Mountain defense matchup. The Huskies know what the Devils run. The question is whether the Huskies can stop the Devils’ double wing.
Battle Mountain was successful to a degree last year, and the Huskies also got some help in the form of five Devils turnovers (four fumbles and one pick). Eagle Valley had some success in last year’s game running outside, and would be wise to go there again. (See the Huskies Rifle game earlier this year. The Bears also run the double-wing.) Battle Mountain’s interior defensive linemen have been a bright spot this year.
All this said, keep in mind Eagle Valley quarterback James VanDyke had his biggest passing game of the season last week.
• Turnovers and penalties: They’ve been the bane of both teams this year. Eagle Valley’s offense hasn’t shown the ability to pick up large chunks of yardage this season (except against Summit.) As we saw last week, penalties are killers for the Devils. Battle Mountain has had big plays called back because of flags -the Moffat game being the most memorable. The Huskies were plus-3 in turnovers in last year’s game and won. That’s not a coincidence.
• Isn’t that special: Both teams have good return men in Eagle Valley’s Ian Bailey and Battle Mountain’s Sanders. Either could break one off tonight.
• Tonight’s biggest question: Where will people sit? (You thought, “Who wins? I’m not going there.) About the only thing wrong with Battle Mountain’s new campus is seating at the stadium. There isn’t enough. Get there early, people.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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