Vail Valley football: Tebow talks, Battle Mountain wins
EDWARDS – For a rivalry game like Battle Mountain-Eagle Valley, a pep talk really isn’t needed, but if Tim Tebow’s in town, why not?
A few hours before the game, the Heisman Trophy winner at Florida and the Broncos’ first-round pick was playing catch on Battle Mountain’s field, apparently in town during Denver’s bye week.
“I didn’t say hi to him,” said Huskies coach David Joyce, who is an Arkansan through and through. “I said, ‘I don’t know if I like a Gator on a Razorback’s field.'”
After the SEC barbs were traded, Tebow spoke to the Huskies for about 15 minutes.
“That was pretty awesome,” Battle Mountain quarterback Jake Engle said. “That was pretty special. I try to be like him.”
The already jacked-up Huskies, officially in orbit after meeting No. 15, promptly went out and beat Eagle Valley, 27-13, Friday night in Edwards for their second win in as many years against their archrivals.
“It’s pretty special to win our last two games, especially this one,” Engle said. “We just have to carry it into next year. I know this was a very disappointing season, and for Eagle Valley as well. We’ve just got to keep working and come back strong year.”
Battle Mountain finished the season at 3-7 overall and 2-5 in the 4A Slope, while Eagle Valley ended up at 2-7 and 1-6.
“We’ve had a tough season,” Devils coach John Ramunno said. “I thought they played pretty hard tonight up until the third quarter when we kind of lost it. Same stuff all year. We didn’t have turnovers tonight. Some key penalties killed a drive.
“You have to hand it to Battle Mountain. Engle played a great game tonight. He ran the ball really well, threw the ball well. Same with (Reeve) Sanders and (Zach Guida). He stepped up and filled in real well and ran hard.”
Running like Libby
With running back Chris Libertini out with a broken wrist, the Huskies reshuffled. Sanders stayed primarily at wide receiver, and Zach Guida went into the backfield.
“I thought of Lib as I ran everything,” Guida said. “I tried to run like Lib.”
Whether he was running like Libertini or running like Zach Guida, he did a great job with 26 carries for 124 yards and a touchdown.
“Zach was an enigma at the beginning of the year,” Joyce said. “We didn’t know if he was a receiver, a fullback, a tight end, a safety, or a running back. Over the offseason, he gained around 30 pounds, dropped around 4-tenths off his 40 time. He morphed into Zach. Then when Lib got hurt against Steamboat, it gave him a shot, and he showed what he can do.”
The Huskies offensive line blew open holes early for Guida, and that gave Battle Mountain the chance to go to the air. Engle fired a 27-yard touchdown pass to Sanders for a 7-0 lead with 6:31 left in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, special teams set up Eagle Valley. Ian Bailey had a 37-yard punt return, putting the Devils on the Huskies’ 7. Matt Kottenstette, who had a huge evening with 24 carries for 141 yards, plunged in from one yard out to tie it.
Battle Mountain responded with the same route on a different play on its next possession – Engle to Sanders for 39 yards this time, and the Huskies led, 14-7, at the half.
The Devils ate up the third quarter with a 16-play drive that was signature Eagle Valley with multiple runners coming out the double-wing. But penalties have dogged the Devils all year and flags halted Eagle Valley.
The Devils picked up a personal foul after they got down to the Huskies’ 13. On third-and-14 from the 16, James VanDyke threw a touchdown pass to Bailey, only to see that come back on a holding. Battle Mountain’s Mike Brown ended that drive by sacking VanDyke on fourth down.
“I thought we’d go down there and score and take the lead,” Ramunno said. “You have to watch the hold, to keep the hands in.”
A bad snap on a punt gave the Devils the ball on Battle Mountain’s 5, and this time the Devils found the end zone. Rick Ramunno scored from two yards out, but Eagle Valley missed the PAT, leaving the Huskies with a 14-13 lead.
With injuries on the Huskies’ offensive line, Battle Mountain had to play more conservatively on offense in the second half, and that meant whole lot of Guida. He rambled 22 yards with 6:30 left in the game, making it 21-13. Sanders put the icing on the cake with a 26-yard burst for the final score.
Joyce knew his players wanted to get him with a bucket of ice water as the final seconds wound down. He tried in vain to get his players not to do it.
“I’m feeling peachy,” he said, despite getting soaked.
While the Huskies bid farewell to seniors Cody Hervert, Irving Ruacho, Geoff Ledon, Luis Leyva, Edgar Jimenez and Brown, 2011 cannot come soon enough. Battle Mountain was a much better team in the second half of the 2010 season with Engle healthy along with Sanders, Libertini and, in Week 10, Guida.
“I want to start it right now,” said Engle, who missed the first six games of the year with an impact fracture to his femur. “I don’t want to stop playing. I’ve had way too short of a season.”
For Eagle Valley, it was a bitter ending to a difficult season. Though the Devils doubled their win total from 2009, they finished 2010 with six losses in a row.
“We talked all about that last year and I don’t think we got as much as we hoped for,” John Ramunno said. “I think the sophomore class, a lot of them played tonight. We’ve got to hope they step up next year.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.
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