Spartans dominate Vikings in season opener

Spartans’ first win a big one

By Dan Karpiel
The Surveyor

The Spartans line up against the Valley Vikings at the goal line in the third quarter of the season opener in Gilcrest, Friday, Aug. 29. The Berthoud Spartans won the contest 41-0. Read about the game in Thursday's Berthoud Weekly Surveyor.  John Gardner / The Surveyor

The Spartans line up against the Valley Vikings at the goal line in the third quarter of the season opener in Gilcrest, Friday, Aug. 29. The Berthoud Spartans won the contest 41-0. Read about the game in Thursday’s Berthoud Weekly Surveyor.
John Gardner / The Surveyor

It might sound like hyperbole to classify a first-of-the-season game against a lower-conference opponent as an “important win,” but that is exactly what Berthoud’s 41-0 drubbing of Valley in Gilcrest last Friday night was. It was an important game, not only because it was the first game of the 2014 season, but because it was the first game of a new generation of Berthoud High School football.

The Spartans have a new coaching staff, led by head man Troy Diffendaffer, which has installed a new philosophy, a new approach, and new offensive and defensive schemes. For months the staff has been preaching and teaching a new way of football and, while it appeared the players had bought in during the offseason and preseason work, Friday night’s resounding victory took their belief in the new approach and in themselves to a whole new level.

“It was really important for the boys,” an elated Diffendaffer said when asked its significance, following the game. “We haven’t been very successful over the last couple of years, so they needed to see that buying into us and doing what we’re asking them to do is going to pay off for them.”

The Spartans dominated in every facet of the game and did so from the very

Berthoud head coach Troy Diffendaffer, center, talks to the team after the game Friday in Gilcrest.  John Gardner / The Surveyor

Berthoud head coach Troy Diffendaffer, center, talks to the team after the game Friday in Gilcrest.
John Gardner / The Surveyor

beginning. On the first play from scrimmage, Berthoud quarterback Cody Braesch hit receiver Jackson Hall on a fly route down the left sideline for a 77-yard touchdown. Hall bested Valley’s one-on-one coverage easily, giving the visiting Spartans a 6-0 lead before even 30 seconds had elapsed.

“Jackson against anyone is a good matchup; he’s a great receiver, and when I saw that guy pressed up I knew he was going to be able to get around him so I took my drop and threw it and then he’s end zone,” Braesch said.

Hall book-ended his night by scoring Berthoud’s final touchdown of the game, although he had to do it twice.

Early in the fourth quarter, the junior wideout caught a pass close to the right hash, made several Valley defenders miss while scampering across the field for the score. Yet Hall’s stellar catch and run to the end zone was called back due to a Berthoud penalty. The Spartans would make up for it just seconds later when Braesch found Hall down the right seam for a 23-yard score, the Spartans sixth of the night. Hall finished the game with 100 receiving yards to go with the pair of touchdown receptions.

The Spartans celebrate a 41-0 victory over the Valley Vikings in the season opener in Gilcrest, Friday, Aug. 29. Read about the game in Thursday's Berthoud Weekly Surveyor.  John Gardner / The Surveyor

The Spartans celebrate a 41-0 victory over the Valley Vikings in the season opener in Gilcrest, Friday, Aug. 29. Read about the game in Thursday’s Berthoud Weekly Surveyor.
John Gardner / The Surveyor

Braesch spread the love, however, connecting with Jimmy Fate six times, Matt Bonds five times, and both Chad Ellis and Ben Poirier twice. Ellis, Fate and Breasch each also rushed for a TD as Berthoud struck an offensive balance with 18 running plays to go with 21 passing.

The plethora of weapons on Berthoud’s offense is a luxury not lost on Braesch who, when asked if having such talent around him makes his job easier replied, “Oh it helps a ton…all of them can catch the ball, so it makes me a lot more confident to know that wherever I go I have someone who can get the job done.”

Despite hanging 41 points on the board and accumulating 390 yards of total offense, the Spartans were more than just the greatest show on the Gilcrest grass.

The Vikings centered their offense around one lone play-maker, tailback Victor Delgado. In their prior game against Estes Park on Aug. 23, the 190-pound senior accumulated 310 all-purpose yards and scored four touchdowns. Yet the Spartans were ready for him Friday night. Despite touching the ball on 21 of Valley’s 39 plays from scrimmage, Delgado was held to just 51 yards and kept out of the end zone.

“Yeah we knew about him…stop him and that was about it; he’s the guy they want to get the ball to on the rush and he’s the guy they want to get to ball to in the passing game,” Diffendaffer said when asked about his team’s plan for, and success against, Delgado.

Both Fate and junior Steele Castles recorded sacks, with Castles notching a pair as part of his six total tackles on just 19 drop backs by Valley quarterback Avery Hanzlicek.

“Now we believe that all the hard work we put in over the summer has changed us, we’re a different team now,” said Braesch.

While the shut-out win was certainly a great way to start the season from Berthoud’s perspective, things are going to get more difficult in the weeks ahead. The team will play a pair of out-of-conference games against 3A opponents which figure to present a tougher test than 2A Valley before beginning a seven-game stretch against their 3A Northern Conference opponents.

The Spartans (1-0, 0-0) will take to Max Marr field at BHS Friday night for their home opener against Arvada High School (0-2, 0-0). Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.