Spartans celebrate homecoming win

By John Hall
The Surveyor

Homecoming is as American as a Norman Rockwell painting or a John Mellencamp song. Berthoud High School enjoyed a very successful homecoming week of activities that culminated in a 42-6 win over the Erie Tigers last Friday in front of a packed stadium at Max Marr Field. It has been five years since the Spartans won a homecoming game, and even the wet weather couldn’t dampen the spirits of the players or maroon and white faithful.

The excitement of homecoming and all of the hoopla the week brings offers some challenges for any football team, with a multitude of distractions from Monday all the way up to kickoff. This year’s game even had a big unexpected distraction with lightning delaying the game for an hour, seconds into the second quarter.

The Spartans coaching staff could have never envisioned the game delay, however throughout the week they stayed on point to remind the team to stay focused. This process of big and small incremental stages of learning is an important part of growing as a team.

Once you realize that you have the ability to be a pretty good football team, every opportunity you have to get better is magnified. This team has a chance to be pretty good, but it is going to take playing smart-and-disciplined football to complement their physical-and-tough identity.

“As far as practice this week, leading up the game I felt we were focused, even with all of the homecoming activities,” said Berthoud head coach Troy Diffendaffer. “I was a little disappointed at the game, with the amount of penalties. Three to five plays can dictate a game; we had three personal fouls, and that is a lack of focus, not moving your feet or taking the right angle of pursuit. Those are the kinds of things that you can’t let happen.”

You never want to see mental mistakes hurt your team, but there is an opportunity to use last week’s lessons as a building block to bigger and better things the rest of the season.

Homecoming almost always comes around the midpoint of the season and is invariably a cross roads for a team, either moving forward or backward. Berthoud has been able to enjoy a 4-0 record, but the road gets much tougher for these young men as they march into the teeth of league play.

The Spartans should learn from this past week’s experience that taking what they worked on throughout the week and putting it into action on Friday night not only takes skill and execution, but discipline and focus.

Maybe the most telling story was in watching many of the leaders on this team after the game. They basked in the glow of a homecoming win, but there was a sense they still remain confident that their best football is ahead of them.

Tomorrow night at Erie High School the Tigers are up next and they will certainly be the most physical team Berthoud has played to date. If they can’t match a team’s physicality, success between the white lines is greatly diminished. The game of football isn’t fair to the timid. And Erie, coming off a tough overtime loss to the Mead Mavericks, surely won’t be a meek or mild group of Tigers. Erie was a state-ranked top-10 team prior to last week’s lost to Mead.

Erie also had to play without their best player, senior Elijah Roper, against the Mavericks due to a suspension.

If the Spartans want continued success, they need to diminish the penalties; play with intensity through the last tweet of the whistle, but not after it, then simply line back up for the next snap. That’s how champions play.