Spartans conclude disappointing season

By Dan Karpiel
The Surveyor

It would be accurate to say the 2016 season did not go the way the Berthoud High School (BHS) football team would have wanted.

However, for a team that entered the season with only two players who had played a meaningful number of snaps at the varsity level before the season began, the Spartans 2-8 record could hardly come as a shock. Berthoud dropped their final game of the year by a 43-7 final to Tri-Valley Conference (TCV) foe Mead on Nov. 4. The game was originally scheduled to be played at BHS but was moved to Mead at the last minute as a result of the closing of BHS.

“We know we’re young, we know we’ve got sophomores and juniors who should be playing JV, but where we’re at they’ve got to play, and they’ve got to step up and start making plays for us,” Berthoud Head Coach Troy Diffendaffer said during the season.

As had become the norm throughout the season, Mead was simply too much for Berthoud to handle. The Mavericks, who finished in second place in the TVC and qualified for the 16-team state tournament, compiled 373 rushing yards against Berthoud. Junior Evan Hansen rushed for 121 yards and three scores on 19 carries and, while senior Gino Musick went for 169 yards and a pair of touchdowns, Berthoud was able to compile only 166 yards of total offense. The Spartans also lost two fumbles and had a punt blocked.

Sophomore receiver Anthony Trojahn, who was a bright spot for Berthoud throughout the season, scored the Spartans lone touchdown on a pass from junior quarterback Brock Voth. Trojahn finished the year as the Spartans leading receiver, totaling 429 yards on 20 receptions. Junior Jake Rafferty led Berthoud in total receptions (32) and receiving touchdowns (three) while also pacing the Spartans with 496 return yards.

Both Rafferty and Trojahn, along with standout Wyatt Woodrick, who missed the final three games of the season after suffering a back injury but still finished with a team-best 824 total yards, figure to be key cogs in the Berthoud passing offense next season. Voth got tons of experience as a varsity quarterback and ended the year with twice as many touchdown passes (10) as he had interceptions (five) and ended the regular season second in the TVC in passing yards.

Getting as many of his players valuable varsity reps was something Diffendaffer stressed throughout the season. The third-year head coach, who has been a part of the Berthoud football program going back to the 1980s when he played for the Spartans, said after a game in mid-October, “The kids are learning to play at the speed at this level, knowing they’re always going to be out-sized … it’s about learning and applying their technique, playing team football and using all the experiences they get, whether positive or negative, and growing from it.”

While the Spartans were often out-sized and over-matched throughout their schedule, one that had Berthoud playing four of their 10 games against teams who ultimately qualified for the state playoffs, Diffendaffer was always adamant that his team fought with everything they had, put in the work in practice and in film study and that their effort will pay dividends in the future.

“I’ve got to hand it to the kids, they haven’t hung their heads, they’ve come out every day, they’ve worked, they’ve tried to get better, they’re learning and they’re buying-in,” Diffendaffer said.

Berthoud’s lone conference win of the season came against Frederick, and the Spartans were awarded a second win via forfeit in their season-opener against Greeley Central, who had reported playing an ineligible player. The good news for Berthoud moving forward is they will be losing only two seniors – lineman Ben Douglas and Jordan Doles – to graduation and will thus return a largely intact squad that took its lumps in 2016 but, as Diffendaffer and his staff maintain, learned from them and will be an improved squad ready to battle next fall.