Spartans shutout by Tigers

By Dan Karpiel
The Surveyor

Scoreboards and box scores can often be deceiving. Even though the Berthoud High School (BHS) football team was shut out 41-0 playing on the road against No. 9-ranked (3A) Erie on Oct. 7, the team’s leaders expressed they were pleased with how the young, rebuilding Spartans fought from start to finish.

“I told the guys, don’t look at [the scoreboard] right now, I’m really pleased with the way our guys competed,” Head Coach Troy Diffendaffer said after the game. “We accumulated more yardage than we had the last three games put together, and defensively we got a lot of turnovers.”

Team captain, Derek Sandstedt, echoed his coach’s sentiments saying, “Although the scoreboard might not show it, I think all of us fought really hard today, we definitely improved from last week and weeks before, we fought hard and there was a lot of effort put in, but we just didn’t come out on top this time.”

Despite a valiant effort, Berthoud proved unable to contain the Tigers’ vaunted rushing attack which accumulated a whopping 349 yards and four scores on 38 carries by nine players. The Spartans forced a pair of turnovers in the first half – junior Connor Siruta intercepted an Erie pass in the end zone early in the second quarter, and two possessions later standout Wyatt Woodrick came down with a tipped pass to end another Erie scoring threat – but after both turnovers, the Berthoud offense gave the ball right back to their hosts with turnovers of their own.

Despite the Spartans’ efforts to swarm to the ball, Erie tailback Noah Roper proved too tough to bring down, stringing off several long runs after he appeared to have been bottled up, “He made some big-time cuts out there and made us miss, and we tried to tackle him up high but has such strength in his lower body we wouldn’t get him to the ground,” Diffendaffer said of Roper. “A couple times we thought we had him stopped and started looking to call our next play and he would break out of the pile.”

The Spartans entered the game planning to rotate players on and off the field throughout the game to keep players fresh against the physically-blessed Tigers. Berthoud rotated their offensive and defensive lines and gave carries to five different players while six different players caught passes from two different quarterbacks.

“That was our plan going in, was we opened up rotations and got a lot guys in. We’re banged up a little bit so we’re trying to get some of them some rest. It was our plan to sub all along, not only quarterbacks, but flip o-line and d-line; I think we threw 24 guys out there at least,” Diffendaffer said.

Quarterbacks Brock Voth (13/18, 103 yards) and Ty Beaman (8/15, 75 yards) saw roughly-equal playing time in a rarely-seen quarterback-by-committee approach from Berthoud. Ryan Schmad hauled in a game-high seven receptions for 74 yards while Woodrick and Beaman each gained 42 yards on the ground.

Said Diffendaffer, “We’re in an adverse situation right now, and I told the guys there’s only two ways to respond to it; we can point fingers and fold the tent … or we sit there and say ‘what can I do to get better’ and ‘what can we do to get better as a team,’ and we need to rally around each other, and that’s attitude we need to have until the end of the season.”

Sandstedt said he believes the team will take the latter route, saying, “Even when we lost games we have to try to keep our spirits up and keep our energy up and stick together, and I think we did that today.”

Berthoud (1-5, 0-1 conf.) will welcome Roosevelt (1-5, 0-1 conf.) to Max Marr Field at BHS for their next game on Oct. 15. The Roughriders, who finished as the state runners-up from class 3A last season, are also in the midst of a rebuilding year.