Berthoud football battles for much-needed win

By Dan Karpiel
The Surveyor

Throughout the 2016 season, the Berthoud High School (BHS) football team has struggled to assemble a complete game. That changed in a major way last Friday night in Frederick.

Berthoud got some big plays on offense, made key stops on defense, avoided committing the mental mistakes that have plagued them through their first seven games, and held on for four quarters to get their first Tri-Valley Conference (TVC) win of the season, besting the Warriors 34-33 on Oct. 21.

“We’ve been working so hard to get the kids to compete for the full 48 minutes, and tonight we did that,” a highly-pleased Berthoud Head Coach Troy Diffendaffer said after the game. “We won our battles in the trenches, we won them outside, we got some big stops, we won those 50-50 balls, we held on and came out on top.”

Berthoud had to overcome some adversity and withstand a late surge from Frederick to hold on for the win. The Spartans took a 21-6 lead at the 7:51 mark in the second quarter when A.J. Anema scored on a pass from Brock Voth, the second of the junior quarterback’s four passing touchdowns on the night. The Warriors answered, however, with just 34 seconds left in the first half, with a touchdown of their own and a successful two-point conversion attempt to make it a one-score game at the break.

In the second half, the Spartans shined. Junior wide receiver Jake Rafferty caught two big-time touchdowns on nearly identical lob passes from Voth to the back left corner of the end zone. On each score Rafferty beat one-on-one coverage, while Voth put the ball in ideal position for his wideout to make a play.

“This week we were in total focus; this was our week to finally get a win; we knew this team is right where we are, struggling like we are, so this week was full-focus, we just worked our butts off all week,” Rafferty said after the game. The junior finished the night with eight receptions for 118 yards to go with the three scores.

“Offensively it was all about execution, we made big plays, o-line did great, quarterback did great, receivers did great, running backs did great,” Rafferty said.

Rafferty’s third touchdown put Berthoud ahead comfortably, 34-20, in the beginning of the fourth quarter, but the Warriors were not going to go quietly into the fall night. Senior running back Lance Hartsoch took a handoff off left tackle and galloped nearly the length of the field for his third score of the game as Frederick cut Berthoud’s lead in half.

On their next possession Berthoud chewed up over four minutes of clock as they reached the Frederick 15, but the drive ended with back-to-back sacks and a turnover on downs. Frederick continued to feed the ball to Hartsoch, who finished the night with an astounding 375 rushing yards on 38 carries, but Berthoud’s defense rose up to get a key stop. On fourth-and-seven the Warriors ran a sweep with Hartsoch, but the Spartans defense was ready for it. They kept containment on the outside and Jordan Doles and Miguel Sarmiento tackled the Frederick’s star player to force the turnover on downs.

Frederick was able to get the ball back late with a chance to tie the game. Warrior receiver Dante Ciaravola got behind the Berthoud secondary and hauled in a pass from Tyler Lords, only the second completed pass of the game for Frederick, and sprinted to the end zone to cut Berthoud’s lead to just one, 34-33, with 22 seconds left in the game. In a gutsy display of gamesmanship, the Warriors opted to go for two, but Berthoud’s defense rose up and stuffed the play, clinching the Spartans first TVC win of the season.

“It’s unthinkable how important this win is, going into the last two games over the next two weeks, it was just a huge confidence boost for us,” Rafferty said. “This is huge, this is exactly what we need to do, coaches said all week we needed to execute and we came out did that for four full quarters tonight.”

Berthoud (2-6, 1-2 conf.) will play at home in their final two games of the season. The Spartans will host TVC rivals Holy Family and Mead on Oct. 28 and Nov. 4, respectively.