Berthoud football makes strong statement at CSU camp

By John Hall
The Surveyor

Head Coach Troy Diffendaffer had a goal, when taking over as the new Spartans coach last year, of Berthoud “Returning to Glory.” Good play in June doesn’t define glory, but it can be the strong foundation in helping young men and a community realizes some glorious dreams.

The Berthoud High School football team went into the Colorado State University (CSU) – Pueblo Thunderwolves’ football camp last week with guarded optimism. However, the Spartans left the home of the Division II National Football Championship Thunderwolves with an abundance of optimism after four tough days competing against five 4A schools from Colorado Springs and the greater Denver area. There were many positive signs that Berthoud is on the right track to return to glory.

Berthoud came into this camp as the state’s no. 3 ranked 3A team in a pre-season poll by Colorado Prep Report. However, pre-season rankings aren’t a true gauge in evaluating a team. Tightening up the chin strap, seeing the squad can take a punch, and then responding by delivering their own decisive blow is a true measuring stick of any team. Of course other things, like execution, are of tangible importance. But all the teams playing into November and December are always physical, and this Spartans team has its eye on post-season play.

The Spartans found themselves across the line of scrimmage from Air Academy, Aurora Central Broomfield, Cheyenne Mountain, Liberty and Sand Creek. It was clear after a couple of days, the alphas in the room were Berthoud and the state’s no. 6 (4A) ranked Broomfield Eagles. The Eagles are moving up to 5A next year and have a long history of football excellence in the state. They were also 4A state semifinalists last year, and were a touchdown away from the state championship game.

Berthoud returns a core of seniors who have enjoyed success wearing Spartans maroon. But what made this camp so encouraging was the younger and/or less experienced players stepping up and making huge contributions during the heated competition. Seniors John Koclanes and Tory Johnson both had an impact on the line of scrimmage. This is Koclanes’ second year of football and Johnson’s first year of high school football. Koclanes is playing defensive end and Johnson is playing offensive guard. As both players get a better understanding of pad level, leverage, and foot work they could be key components of the Spartans meeting their goals in 2015.

Another player who had a breakout performance was junior Karsten Bump. Bump saw significant minutes last year on defense, but it was on offense where he shined for the Spartans in Pueblo. Bump’s north and south downhill running style will serve Berthoud’s potent offense well. Bump also played through some big hits at the camp, showing he understands the difference between banged up and injury. A sophomore who caught a few eyes and some footballs was McCallan (Cally) Castles. Castles played slot receiver and defensive back, making plays on both sides of the ball.

Senior Lucas Czarnecki received an award for his outstanding and inspired play at the camp. Czarnecki could help anchor the offensive line in 2015 with his rugged play.

The CSU camp from start to finish was about competition. The Berthoud coaching staff was committed to rotating the younger players into the each varsity competition, giving them a chance to earn valuable playing time. Another positive sign for the future was the number of players from Berthoud who signed up for the camp. The Spartans had 63 in attendance, only topped by Broomfield’s 93 and Sand Creek’s 65 players. The camp ended with team receiving a seeded position for a live full-speed scrimmage like the playoffs. The seed was based on performance throughout the week. Berthoud was seeded second and Broomfield was seeded first. Both teams ultimately were victorious on their way to the final game against each other. It would have been tempting to keep Berthoud’s starters on the field the entire game to try and win the final competition against the much bigger Broomfield squad. Berthoud remained committed to their substitution pattern with their younger players, Broomfield chose to keep the starters and most experienced players in the entire scrimmage. The score ended up 7-0 in favor of Broomfield.