Delta High School enjoyed a successful homecoming week and celebrated with a big 32-7 win over the cellar-dwelling Battle Mountain's Huskies (0-5 and 0-7) last Friday night.
Delta is hoping the next few weeks of play in the tough 3A WSL will be kind to them as they play for post-season positioning.
The top two teams are on the Panthers' schedule in the next three weeks and could make the difference in whether or not they make a playoff berth.
Rifle is the league leader at 5-0 and has a spotless 7-0 record overall. Palisade's Bulldogs rest in second place at 4-1 and 6-1 with Eagle Valley in third (4-1 and 6-1). Delta (4-1 and 5-2) has beaten Eagle Valley 25-21 in a game played in September. Should Eagle Valley lose to both Rifle and Palisade, who are listed on Eagle Valley's schedule as the last two games, Delta could move ahead of the Devils on a tie-breaker.
Delta moved closer to making its playoff hopes better with a dominating game against Battle Mountain last Friday.
With rains from the previous day, and an afternoon downpour that left Panther Stadium's field inundated with water, footing was not the best for either team.
Throwing the ball was even more precarious as stats might indicate. Delta's Mitch Whiteside threw just eight times and completed one pass each to Chris Black and Ryan Whiteside. Black's reception was the more productive in that it resulted in a 48-yard touchdown. The two passes combined for 55 yards of offense for the Panthers.
Battle Mountain had a pair of passers who combined for five of 11 and 59 yards.
On the ground, Zach Decker wasn't bothered too much with the mud and wet conditions as he rambled for 123 yards on nine carries.
Mitch Whiteside picked up 41 yards on nine carries and scored two touchdowns for the Panthers. Decker, Black and Cordell Stroud scored one touchdown each.
Delta scored on its first possession of the game on Decker's nine-yard run to finish a six-play, 61-yard drive. Alex Quintero missed the extra point kick to leave Delta ahead 6-0 with 7:29 remaining in the first quarter. Decker had scored on the previous play but the score was nullified by a holding penalty.
The Panthers got the ball back after Battle Mountain was unable to move the ball on its next series of downs. Delta's ground game moved the ball to Battle Mountain's 48 before Whiteside hit Black on a bubble-screen to the right for a 48-yard catch and run score with 2:48 left in the first quarter.
The scoring drive took five plays and covered 70 yards. Quintero booted the extra point for a Delta 13-0 lead.
A three-and-out by the Huskies gave the ball back to Delta at the 50-yard line. Decker ran the ball 22 yards to help set up a 24-yard scamper around left end by Mitch Whiteside for six points as time ran out in the first period. Quintero's kick failed, leaving the score at 19-0.
Whiteside scored his second touchdown of the evening on Delta's first possession of the second quarter. Whiteside plunged three yards to culminate an eight-play, 45-yard drive with 5:11 left to play in the first half. Delta led at half by the score of 25-0.
The Panthers were first to get the ball in the third quarter. Saul Sanchez took the kickoff at his own 30 and raced down the left sideline for 45 yards to the Huskies' 25. From there, the Panthers ran five plays before fumbling the ball away to Battle Mountain at the Huskies' five-yard line.
Delta's defense allowed just three yards to Battle Mountain to force a punt. The punt was blocked by Josh Lindsey in the end zone where Cordell Stroud fell on the ball for six points. The extra point kick was good this time to give Delta a 32-0 lead with 7:20 left in the third quarter.
Delta made way for second-teamers in the waning moments of the third quarter and the bulk of the fourth stanza. Battle Mountain put together a 12-play drive that ended with a Huskies' fumble that was recovered by Delta. Delta finished off the third quarter with the ball in its possession and fumbled it back to the Huskies four plays into the fourth.
Battle Mountain had four possessions in the final period and finally struck paydirt on a hook-and-ladder play that covered 64 yards with 23.1 left in the game. With Chase Keep's extra-point kick, the Huskies averted a shutout in a 32-7 loss.
Suprisingly, there were only four fumbles in the contest on a field that could well have produced a fumble on every play.
Delta will meet Palisade at Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction on Friday, Oct. 19. This would be an excellent game to win for the Panthers as they face the top ranked 3A team Rifle Bears the following week.
Palisade is listed eighth by MaxPreps while Delta is shown at number 14. Eagle Valley is third with its 6-1 record.