Battle Mountain runs over Skiers
EAGLE-VAIL ” Hop on the Hedrick train, Battle Mountain.
Ryan Hedrick led the way for the Huskies’ football team Saturday night with 243 yards and four touchdowns on 16 carries in Battle Mountain’s 35-2 win over Aspen at Phelan Field.
The Huskies pounced on the Skiers early, scoring 10 points in the first seven minutes, then put the game out of reach in the second half with several rushing touchdowns.
“There was a little dip in the middle of the game, but our kids played very well,” said Battle Mountain coach Pat Engle. “It was evident our kids wanted to play hard.”
Aspen, plagued with several injuries, stopped Battle Mountain’s offense for the latter part of the second quarter and into the third, but then gave up several big plays.
“A lot of the later scores were due to fatigue. We are playing with about 14 players now,” said Aspen coach Travis Benson.
Battle Mountain’s offense smothered Aspen all game. Aspen gained almost as many yards from Battle Mountain penalties as it did on offense.
“We definitely couldn’t get the offense rolling tonight,” Benson said. “It comes down to execution, and getting the guys going, and that comes on me.”
Leading the stingy Huskies’ defense was Punky Carlos, with 10 tackles, three assists and two sacks.
“You always want to set the tempo on defense and then pound them on offense,” Carlos said.
Hedrick finished Battle Mountain’s first drive with a 32-yard touchdown run. After the Huskies defense stopped Aspen on its first three plays, the Huskies got the ball back and scored three more points on a Derek Byron field goal.
On the ensuing kickoff, Byron squibbed a surprise onside kick that the Huskies recovered.
“That was huge,” Engle said. “I wish we could have capitalized on the kick. We didn’t get off our script. We had a 15-play script to start the game and we didn’t deviate from it.”
Midway through the second quarter heavy rains slicked the field, but Hedrick was still able to keep his footing for a long TD run on a fourth-and-four play.
Aspen had an inauspicious start to the second half when Byron’s kickoff landed at the one-yard-line, and an Aspen player picked up the ball just before several Battle Mountain players pounced on him.
The Skiers’ Whit Fuller had a few key runs for Aspen that moved the chains.
“He’s doing well,” Benson said. “He stepped in for our starting tailback, who is injured.
The offensive llineman did well in some spurts.”
Hedrick was appreciative of the Huskies’ offensive line.
“My line was hitting everything like they were supposed to,” Hedrick said. “When they do that, I can run forever.”
On his final two touchdown runs, Hedrick went 54 and 66 yards, breaking several tackles along the way.
“I didn’t expect that [many yards], but I expected a good game,” Hedrick said. “I’m hoping we can carry that into the rest of the season.”
Engle also had high hopes for Hedrick coming into Saturday’s game.
“We felt like he was going to stop up and run well,” Engle said. “The fans were surprised. I can’t expect him to run 250 yards every time, but I expected him to run and do what he did.”
Bart Cuomo was effective at quarterback, completing several passes and handling the ball well.
Byron, who as a senior played in his first high school football game Saturday night, played with the calm of a veteran. While back near his own goal line for a punt, Byron saw a snap go over his head. Right after the ball landed on the one-yard-line, Byron kicked it out of the back of the end zone for a safety. On the ensuing kickoff, Byron kicked the ball over the Aspen receiver’s head for a 65-yard kick. Byron had Battle Mountain’s only interception.
The Huskies capitalized on a botched Aspen punt deep in Aspen’s own end. After the snap went over the head of Aspen’s punter, Battle Mountain’s Bart Clark stormed into the end zone and pounced on the ball for a score.
Levi Horn (seven tackles, three assisted, one sack), Jamie Hijmans (six tackles, three assisted) and Miah King (three tackles, two sacks) bolstered the Battle Mountain defense that didn’t allow Aspen into the Huskies’ redzone.
For the final few series, Battle Mountain put in their reserves. Freshman Josh Kundolf had a 25-yard punt return, and nearly broke free for a touchdown.
Engle was happy with the way his team closed out the game, and thought Aspen finished the game strong.
“Hats off to Aspen,” Engle said. “They are where we are two years ago. They are fighting hard and playing hard. I can see it in their eyes.”
Aspen hopes to rebound for its next game.
“We need to try and execute our offense and get things rolling,” Benson said.
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American giant slalom stud Ted Ligety won six times at Birds of Prey, be it five World Cups and/or gold in the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, but we have to remember what a struggle it was for him to get there.