Vail Valley preps: Huskies end skid, beat Highland
EDWARDS – It was a long time in coming for Battle Mountain football, and the Huskies, their coaches and their fans celebrated like it Friday night.
The Huskies broke in their new field down in Edwards in front of an overflow crowd with a 37-13 thumping of Highland to snap a 19-game losing streak dating back to Sept. 27. 2007.
“I feel great. About time, about time,” said senior Parke Robbins who got a postgame ride along with running back Chris Libertini from the student body which poured onto the field after the win. “It’s awesome, but this is just one. This is the start of some things. This is the start.”
It was also Battle Mountain’s first home win since Sept. 22, 2006. It was coach David Joyce’s first victory since taking over the program, and he was a cold, but happy man after his players dumped the Gatorade bucket on him.
“I’m going to have pneumonia, man. I got only a sweatshirt on. I have to have a fleece on for them to do that,” Joyce joked. “It’s awesome. They did it. They had the best week of practice. This week it snowed a little bit. Anytime it snows, the mountain guys get kind of wiry and the energy picks up. They came out and executed. They played awesome.”
And since a lot of the members of this team were sophomores and freshman the last time Battle Mountain won (38-22 at Cortez), this was the first varsity win for many in black and gold.
“It feels great,” linebacker/running back John Simpson said. “We’ve wanted to win for the past two years. “
Kicker Cody Hervert became the answer to a trivia question by recording the first points at the new field. His field goal capped a 70-yard drive to open the game. While the Huskies didn’t find the end zone on that march, it was a sign of things to come.
Battle Mountain’s defense, which had allowed 43.6 points per game going into Friday night’s game, started its best evening of the year with a three-and-out, and the offense was ready to go.
Robbins raced 72 yards on a third-and-3 from his own 22-yard line. A few plays later, Robbins got the first touchdown on the turf for a 9-0 lead. (Cody Hervert also recorded the first missed PAT, but would atone in spectacular fashion later in the half.)
The Huskies’ ground game was simply phenomenal. Robbins rushed 27 times for 235 yards with two touchdowns, while Libertini rambled for 154 yards and a score on 18 carries.
“The O-line killed it tonight,” Robbins said. “All my rushing yards were because of them. They killed it.”
Highland got on the board with a touchdown in the second quarter, but Battle Mountain answered is own 80-yard march. Robbins did the honors with a 29-yard scamper. (And Hervert got the field’s first PAT this time.)
With the hurry-up offense starting to assert itself, the visiting Huskies – yep, that’s Highland’s mascot also – started to tire. Battle Mountain defense stepped up forcing Highland to turn the ball over on downs.
Libertini ran for 19 yards. Jake Engle hooked up with Geoff LeDon for nine, putting the Huskies on Highland’s doorstep. And then there was the first touchdown pass by the home team, a 14-yard fade from Engle to Hervert, who made a great grab in the corner.
Battle Mountain’s Colby Childers ended Highland’s first possession of the second half with a sack. The defense then forced another turnover on downs.
Though Highland did get a 52-yard yard touchdown in the second half to close to 23-13, Battle Mountain’s clearly came to play Friday night. With Simpson moved to middle linebacker from offense and a solid team effort in wrapping up on tackles, Highland was done for the night.
Payton Lovett ended one Highland drive with an interception as did Eric Weiss. Carl Hamrick pitched in sack.
“Defensive effort was great, better than we’ve done all year,” Simpson said. “I’m proud we actually played like we know how to play. We played to our full potential.”
The Huskies didn’t let up on offense either. Engle called his own number with 14.4 seconds left in the third quarter for a 1-yard scoring dive.
Libertini closed out the scoring with a 16-yard run.
Friday’s game might have exposed one minor problem with the new stadium – not enough seating. And that’s a good problem, especially for Battle Mountain football.
The student body and community came out in force. This was easily the biggest crowd for a Battle Mountain home game (against a team not named Eagle Valley) since the mid-90s.
The Huskies’ end of bleachers was standing-room-only. Huskies fans ended up packing the visiting bleachers as well. Fans were also standing between the two sets of bleachers and out into the parking lot south of the field.
“It was sweet,” Robbins said. “I couldn’t even see an empty spot in the stands. It was ridiculous. I can’t think the fans enough.”
Battle Mountain (1-3) is at Glenwood Springs Friday night.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Schedule changes and scores
Battle Mountain vs. Cheyenne Mountain, 1 p.m. for varsity
Friday’s football scores
Battle Mountain 37, Highland 13
Steamboat Springs 42, Eagle Valley 12
Delta 19, Rifle 3
Palisade 34, Moffat County 6
Glewnood Springs at Cortez, (n)