Spartan football works their way to their second straight playoff appearance

File photo – Berthoud’s Miguel Sarmiento on a punt return for the Spartans earlier this year. The senior made a tremendous play snagging an interception that changed the tide of the game and helped propel Berthoud to a 34-19 win in Eaton last Friday. With the win, Berthoud earned a spot in the 2A State playoffs and will travel to La Junta for the round one game this Saturday.

By Jordan Schachterle

The Surveyor

For a group of 18 seniors who have been together since fourth grade, none of them were ready to give up playing football with one another.

The Berthoud High School (BHS) Spartans travelled to Eaton High School (EHS) for the final game of the regular season. The Spartans faced elimination, but the season will live on after topping the Reds 34-19.

The Spartans jumped out quickly and scored first on a rushing touchdown from senior Austyn Binkly. They completed the eight-point play with a successful two-point conversion with a run from Anthony Trojan.

“We just needed to come out here and get started. We started very fast the last three games that we lost,” Berthoud Head Coach Troy Diffendaffer said about the fast start. “So that first touchdown for us was big for us to get us some momentum. But they responded back and got up on us.”

The scoreboard was frozen for the remainder of the first quarter and for the start of the second. The Reds put up 13 points in last six minutes of the first half. Berthoud went into halftime down by five points and came back out with a fire in their hearts.

“Coach Diff told us we needed to dig deep down in our hearts and fight back. A lot of people thought that was going to be our last game. I think that got into a lot of our heads and made us really want to win and go further into the playoffs,” Sarmiento spoke about what happened in the locker room in the break, “Coach Frye, he always gives us his inspirational speeches and that makes us go harder after halftime.”

The 18 seniors knew their careers together couldn’t end on this chilly Friday night in Eaton. The nine years they had spent and worked together all led up to this very moment. Everything was on the line and it took each and every one of them to make their time together last.

The game came down to not only the seniors, but even the youngest players too. The ball was knocked from the Reds quarterback’s hands and sophomore Cooper Hidalgo quickly picked up the ball. The defensive lineman sprinted 64 yards down the middle of the field to score six points for his team.  

The Spartans took the lead once again at 14-13, but they didn’t get to hold it for long. EHS kicked two balls up for two field goals and six points. It seemed as though the Spartans may face defeat, but one play changed the fate of the entire game.

After losing the ball off an interception just one play before, Sarmiento set up in deep coverage, analyzing the movements of each wide receiver and every player on the other side of the line. The ball was snapped and the senior free safety broke when the pass was thrown up.

As Sarmiento intercepted the pass the crowd and the sideline erupted. This play gave Berthoud great field position and it gave them a feeling of hope that they could still win the game.

“I think that made our team happier and more pumped up. It made our offense more confident to get the ball into the end zone,” Sarmiento said of his game-changing play.

The excitement from this play carried directly into the Spartans offense. The following drive was full of exceptional plays from many players. Jake Lozinski broke through numerous tackles to get the Spartans a crucial first down. The powerful drive was completed with a rushing touchdown from junior quarterback, Brennan Garvin, his first of two.

Trojan completed the play, rushing for his second two-point conversion of the game. BHS ran away with the lead and never looked back for the rest of the game.

In the final 12 minutes Berthoud scored two more touchdowns to finish the game − one from Garvin and one from senior Danny Pelphrey. A sack from Ty Beaman, who recorded nine on the season, sealed the win for Berthoud. The sack forced a turnover on downs and gave the ball back to the Spartans to run out the clock.

As the final seconds passed by and the buzzer sounded, Berthoud punched their ticket to the playoffs for the second year in a row − a feat that hasn’t been accomplished at BHS in many years.

“That was awesome. It’s been a while since Berthoud’s made it in back-to-back years,” Trojan, a captain this year, said about taking the victory. “It’s really cool to be a part of that with these guys, being that we have all been together since fourth grade. It’s really cool how everything tied back together, so it just meant a lot. Plus, we get to keep playing football, so that’s always great.”

The season may be far from over for the Spartans as they were selected for the playoffs as the 13 seed. They will face the La Junta Tigers Saturday afternoon with hopes of advancing to the round of eight.

Although it is a big game for the team, the Spartans are aiming to treat it as any other game. Trojan said, “Every week we try to go 1-0 and just win the week. It’s really exciting, but we just have to try to stay grounded and stay focused.”

BHS will be more dedicated and more passionate than ever during the days leading up to the game. Sarmiento touched on what is going on at their practices this week, “We’re watching a lot of film, lots and lots of film. As Coach Diff says, preparation is what we need to win this game. Every day we go 110 percent at practice, just like we’ll play on the field.”

The Spartan football team, led by 18 seniors in their final season, will travel to La Junta High School on Saturday, Nov. 3,to face the No.4-seeded La Junta Tigers in the first round of the Colorado Class 2A state playoffs.