Berthoud football playing for today and tomorrow

By John Hall
Surveyor columnist

Twenty short months ago, the Berthoud High School football program was coming off a 3-16 record over two seasons. What was equally disappointing was the number of players not participating in the program. Since that time the Spartans football record is 11-4, they made the state playoffs in 2014, and have more student athletes playing football for Berthoud than ever before.

In building any high school athletic program there’s a strategic blend in playing your older and more experienced players with the younger players to sustain a culture of long-term success. Winning games, trying the win a league title, and advancing as far as possible in the playoffs is always a team’s goal. That goal at times forces coaching staffs to play their more experienced players every snap of the game. This, unfortunately, doesn’t give the younger players real game speed repetitions and can diminish the long-term success of a program.

Berthoud (4-0) has enjoyed, in the early part of the season, a favorable schedule, allowing head football coach Troy Diffendaffer and his staff to deploy a large number of younger players to the varsity field. Berthoud has been able to play a significant number of lesser-experienced players and still maintain its stature as the No. 8 ranked team in the state.

“We believe giving those younger kids reps at the varsity level benefits our program in a lot of different ways,” said Diffendaffer. “One: it helps keep our starting group fresh as we go down the stretch of the season and, two: if by some misfortune and we have a player go down [to injury] we would have a guy who has some quality varsity game reps and would hopefully not be taking any steps backwards. Those players would be a bit more salty and better prepared to compete at this level.”

However, moving forward with this Friday’s game against the Erie Tigers, followed by Holy Family (ranked No. 6 in the state) and then Mead (ranked No. 7 in the state), the starters and more experienced players will likely see most of the action. Erie (2-2) is a quality team that is always a formidable opponent in the tough Northern League. Last season, Erie hired former Holy Family offensive coordinator Chris Summers as its head coach. Summers has opened up their offense, transitioning away from their old double wing T offense. Defensively, Erie traditionally plays very aggressively and makes opponents work for every yard. And the 2015 Tigers are no different.

“We’re real excited about Friday’s game because it will give us a chance to see where we are at (in playing Erie),” added Diffendaffer. “It’s going to be a true test, we got some good competition across from us and were hoping the schemes we’re putting in allows us to take advantage of their aggressiveness and allows us to do what we need to do offensively.”