Mistakes costly as Berthoud football falls to 0-3

By Dan Karpiel

The Surveyor

Late in the third quarter at last Friday night’s football home-opener at Berthoud High School, Skyview quarterback Brandon Gutierrez dropped back to pass on a third-and-long, faced some pressure, and scrambled to his right, he somehow escaped the grasp of a pair of Berthoud defenders, fired the ball downfield to George Mendoza who reeled in the pass for a 21-yard gain and a first down. Fifteen more yards were added to the end of the play as a result of a Berthoud personal-foul penalty.

It was a play that summed up the night for the Spartans; Skyview got all the lucky breaks and benefited from Berthoud’s litany of mistakes. Skyview won the game by an 18-7 final score, keeping Berthoud at a winless 0-3 record one-third of the way into the season.

Berthoud committed four turnovers in the first half, including a back-breaking interception that was returned for a touchdown early in the second quarter that put Skyview ahead, 12-0.

“I think four turnovers against anybody is going to be a tough pill to swallow, and then when one of those is a pick-six that’s a huge momentum swing, that’s basically a 14-point swing in a real tight ball game,” Berthoud Head Coach Cory Ticnor said after the game. Two possessions later, the third Berthoud turnover of the half set up Skyview at the Spartan’s 14-yard line; a touchdown pass from Gutierrez to Issac Madrid gave the visiting Wolverines their third score of the half and 18-zip lead.

“We’ve kind of avoided the turnover bug the first two weeks and that’s something in high school you expect to happen early on,” Ticnor said. “I think it’s just bad timing, but those are things we can work on in practice, and we’ll get better with ball security and decision-making.”

Despite the three-score deficit entering the second half, Berthoud did not give up and looked like a different team. After forcing a Skyview punt on the half’s opening possession, Berthoud took the ball at their own 35 and assembled a textbook scoring drive. Running back Cooper Stratmeyer, running behind a re-worked Berthoud offensive line, did the majority of the damage.

Stratmeyer broke free for a 39-yard gain that got the Spartans across midfield. Junior Cooper Hidalgo gained six yards on fourth down and five to keep the drive alive. Then it was Stratmeyer’s turn once again; the senior gained eight yards on first-and-10 to get Berthoud to the five-yard line, and on the next play he broke through the Skyview defense to score the Spartans first points of the game at 4:44 mark in the third quarter.

Berthoud’s strong showing in the second half on both sides of the ball was something Ticnor made note of after the game, saying, “You know I couldn’t be more proud of the way they responded in the second half. These kids reacted a lot differently in this second half than in the first two weeks so that tells me we’re taking the steps forward, I think we’re starting to go in the right direction.”

 Stratmeyer echoed his coach’s comments regarding Berthoud’s never-say-die approach in the second half, also noting how differently the team responded against Skyview compared to the first two games of the year. Said Stratmeyer, “Last game we blew it in the first half and came out flat in the second half and blew it again. This time in the second half, we laid a goose egg on the board for them, scored a touchdown, so it’s definitely a lot of progress. Our line definitely stepped up. Tonight we established a run game; I feel like we made a big step.”

Berthoud avoided committing any turnovers in the second half and kept Skyview off the board. Other than Gutierrez’ miraculous escape and completion downfield to Mendoza, the Spartans defense prevented getting hurt by the big play, with Skyview’s first three possessions of the second half ending in a punt, a missed field goal, and a turnover on downs.

Ticnor credited defensive coordinator Travis Lease with making the right adjustments and the team for responding well. “We made some great halftime adjustments with our defensive coordinator, Coach Lease, and I think you saw the result of that when we came back out (in the second half).”

Berthoud (0-3) will welcome rival Thompson Valley (0-2) to Max Marr Field at BHS this Friday night for their next contest. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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