What we learned from the Rifle game | VailDaily.com

What we learned from the Rifle game

I think I enjoy covering Battle Mountain football because I am a San Francisco Giants fan.

The Huskies and Giants are surprisingly similar. Both are full of promise … usually unfulfilled. Both will give you enough of a tease into thinking this really could be ‘The Year.’ (In the Giants’ case, it’s really looking that way, at least as far as making the postseason.)

Both have passionate fan bases. Both teams manage to surprise, playing well in situations one would never expect. And, yes, both manage to do stupefyingly-awful things that leave everyone involved seemingly scarred for life. (See Saturday’s Giants-Rockies game.)

Yes, we are transitioning to Friday’s Rifle debacle, where the Huskies managed to snag defeat from the jaws of victory, leading 19-6 at the half only to lose 27-19. Before we do so, however, I remind you that the Giants led the 2002 World Series three games to two, and were leading Game 6, 5-0, with eight outs to go, only collapse in a heap, 6-5, and still don’t have a world title since 1954.

I can relate.

We can talk about botched snap on the Rifle 1-yard line, the call for the fake field goal, the blocked punt, the insertion of Eric Weiss and the ensuing interception – the key moments in the second half – all we want until we are blue in the face. We can throw in the fact that No. 7 – as Huskies coach David Joyce was calling starting quarterback Jake Engle – got injured in a freakish manner – quite Giant-like – one week before the season began. It’s good fodder for debate.

But the bottom line is that Huskies lost this game at halftime. This was all about a team that doesn’t know how to win, and logically so, because there hasn’t been much winning in Huskies football since the first half of the 90s.

Unused to success, the Huskies found themselves in the locker room at the half up 19-6, and felt that the rest of the game was going to be just like that. They were going to cruise to a Homecoming win.

Easy. Done.

And thus the chain of events so bizarre, even by Huskies standards, was set in motion, though the Rifle tipped pass for a 22-yard gain was a nice sadistic touch.

So what do you take out of it?

First, it’s never over until the clock flashes zeroes in the fourth quarter and the fans are charging onto the field. This can never happen again. Ever. Any time this team leads at the half again, it’s “Remember that Rifle game?”

Two, the 2010 Huskies can play. Even with the gruesome finish, one can say that this team will not be overmatched by most teams in the conference. Battle Mountain hasn’t been close to beating Rifle since, well, a very long time.

In the previous six years, the Bears beat the Huskies, 47-27, 53-6, 28-0, 32-0, 26-13 and 33-0. As painful as Friday was, it was distinct improvement.

And there’s one other thing that links the Giants and Battle Mountain football together. The day will come when it finally comes together. It will, and it’s going to be fun.

This week’s shopping list:

• We would never forget the Devils, who are 2-1. As coach John Ramunno said roughly, “It took us until mid-October to win one game last year.” First, let us acknowledge the importance of a win at Steamboat. None of the current Devils were around for it, but you Eagle Valley fans know of what I’m speaking. Giants fans have long memories and the 2005 playoff loss in Steamboat must never be forgotten. Stupid CHSAA.

OK, we’re back now. Who’s coming to town this week, but Rifle? Eagle Valley’s defense should be pretty familiar with the offense the Bears run. It’s the double-wing. (By the way, there were a lot of chuckles up in the booth Friday night at the Battle Mountain game because of this.) Seriously, it’s Homecoming for the Devils and Rifle is also a “get over the hump” opponent for the Devils. Keep it rolling, Eagle Valley. Remember how you’re defending your turf this year.

• Vail Christian football didn’t want to feel left out, right? So starting quarterback Austin Ellsworth got hurt in practice. OK enough fitting in, as all three local football teams have lost their starting quarterback to an injury. Seriously, the Saints have had a rough patch of schedule in the last three weeks. It ends on Saturday against Gilpin County.

• It’s gut-check week for both 4A soccer teams. Eagle Valley gets Moffat at home after the Bulldogs rolled the Devils in Craig. Here’s a nickel’s worth of free advice – the Bulldogs play a vertical game. Play your defenders up a bit to catch them in an offsides trap. Meanwhile, win those 50-50 balls over the top, and you’re in the game.

Up in Edwards, Battle Mountain soccer got handed its first bit of adversity with a road loss – where else – at Glenwood Springs. Let’s see how Cope’s crew responds. And everyone has to bow to Cody Hervert because he’s the Homecoming King.

• And now for a special message: Run through the finish line, David Shearon. You think I don’t know, but I’m everywhere.

• Insert statement about Eagle Valley cross country’s Maggie Gilman here. I’m running out of superlatives.

• Way to go, Michael Wilhelm and Dillon McDonald for making state in golf. Let the practice rounds begin.

• Meanwhile, is Battle Mountain volleyball at Eagle Valley Tuesday? Might have to check that out.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.

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