When the 3A Battle Mountain Huskies travel to Summit County this weekend to face the Summit High School Tigers, they will look to start off their season on the right foot.
Coming off two straight winless seasons, the Huskies are more confident and better experienced going into 2000.
Nine starters return on both sides of the ball, and senior quarterback Kyle Ferguson returns to take the snaps and direct the offense.
Andrew Garst, tailback and defensive end, and John Hight, senior fullback and defensive end, are team captains and players to keep an eye on.
Games against Palisade and Rifle are no easy chore for Battle Mountain, but the Huskies are experienced enough up front to move the ball against opposing teams.
The two tackles on the offensive line combine for more than 500 pounds and should provide enough power for Garst to run behind. Garst will have to replace running back Pat Martinez, but should do well at tailback.
"I think we're a little more experienced up front," Huskies head coach Scott Wiedeman said. "I think if we're able to establish the line of scrimmage, then we'll be able to move the football."
There may not be a single star on this year's team, but the Huskies are well balanced on offense and defense.
"We don't have any outstanding people that stick out," Wiedeman said. "They just all work hard together."
Battle Mountain runs an I-formation on offense, and plays a 5-3 defense. Wiedeman has been preaching to his defense all summer long about the importance of making tackles and recognizing assignments. The philosophy of the Huskies defense, Wiedeman said, is to confuse offenses up front and stop teams from moving the football.
That goal could be difficult on Oct. 6, when the Huskies travel to Steamboat for the Sailors homecoming game. Sailors fullback Stewart Beall is a tough runner who likes to punish defenders with his hard-nosed style.
Wiedeman sees Steamboat as one of his team's toughest games this year.
"For one thing, they've got a lot of returners, and they're well coached," Wiedeman said. "They look real good. They know the system. They know what's expected of them. They'll get after it."
In order to have a good year, Wiedeman says that his players will need to gain confidence, and learn to better handle adversity.
"I think we got to learn to stick together and play one game at a time," he said. "It's not the same team as last year. We'll just build from week to week."
The Huskies open their season against the Tigers. The goal this year, Wiedeman says, is to win games.
"I think one of our main goals, no matter what happens, is to play hard and stick together," he said.
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