West Valley QB Brandon Battle’s Journey to Montana Tech
A casual observer can easily identify West Valley QB Brandon Battle as the number one football recruit in the Yakima Valley.
Born and raised in Yakima Washington, Brandon Battle has enjoyed light celebrity status in the community through his playing days.
This past season, Battle led West Valley to one of the best season's in school history.
The story was capped by a state quarterfinals appearance, losing to eventual state champs Richland.
Battle got his foot in the door playing football in seventh grade; where he came up under the tutelage of Jake Cupp and Craig Kupp.
Yes, those Cupp's. The Cupp's that give back to the Yakima football community long after their son Cooper Kupp has made it big in the NFL.
"Jake Kupp (Cooper's grandfather) and Craig Kupp (Cooper's dad) didn't just hand me the QB spot my first year, I had to earn it through competition Tuesday's," said Battle on how he started his career.
Making a name for himself through the junior high ranks, Battle came in with hype starting his high school career.
Suddenly disaster struck. Taking a brutal hit in his first start as a freshman, Battle completely destroyed his leg.
The damage? A Tibial plateau avulsion fracture.
In less doctorate terms, the hit jarred his kneecap up his leg.
"I've got five screws in my knee right now. I was out for a quite a while. I tried to do track, but I ended up back in rehab," said Battle on his recovery.
For months, Brandon Battle was kept out of the quarterback race. His stock was starting to slip in the eyes of the higher-ups.
After he gingerly battled (no pun intended) through spring ball of his sophomore year; Battle lost the QB competition to junior Quinton Stromme.
This only motivated Battle, who knew he only had two years left to prove himself.
"I did a lot a training going into my junior year, and I think Quinton saw that. (West Valley head coach) Dan Eyeman hinted there might be a switch at QB."
Saying that Battle did a lot of training would be an understatement. The man ran the freaking gauntlet.
Battle flew to Louisiana to work out with Peyton Manning. He did camp circuits with FBU and NW elite. He attended several prestigious college showcases including Eastern Washington and Portland. He even was featured on a TV produced football show known as the Northwest Nine.
"There wasn't too much temptation to play to the viewers, I'm not much of a camera guy," chuckled Brandon Battle on his Northwest Nine experience.
But perhaps what most jump-started his career the most was working with former Seahawk QB Jake Heaps.
"Every Saturday it was waking up at 5am, driving 160 miles to Seattle, training with Jake Heaps for three hours, then driving 160 miles back. I did that for six months," said Battle on his off-season grind.
Battle would go on to tear up the Big Nine his junior and senior seasons.
Between the two years he threw for over 5000 yards, 53 touchdowns, and also put in another 600 yards on the ground.
He finish his career as the Big Nine offensive MVP. As well as a two-time all-league QB.
Yet despite all his accolade's. Battle found himself receiving zero offers through his high school career.
"The QB market is incredibly competitive in the state of Washington. All the QB's around here; they all want to win. A lot of them come from schools with rich tradition, there's a lot of pressure to get to the next level."
With just a handful of college's in-state, and each typically offering one QB per class. You truly have to be the best to keep playing.
It wasn't until late November that Battle received his first scholarship offer. Division two Simon Fraser, based out of British Columbia.
"I was so excited, just for the opportunity. This late in the recruiting process, I was contemplating whether I should just focus on academics (Battle has a 3.9 GPA). Those thoughts definitely creep into your head. But I love playing football, and to get that offer was huge for me."
University of Puget Sound was next to offer, followed by Montana Tech. And at that point, the decision had become clear.
"I grew up wanting to be a cop, but now I've wanted to get into engineering. I've been working in a welding program at West Valley, and Montana Tech has a welding engineering program I want to do. It ended up being a perfect match."
Montana Tech recently graduated their starting QB, and Battle knows he could have next.
"Playing as a true freshman, that would be fun. I think I can do It. I just have to keep training this off-season, and then go out there and compete."
No doubt Battle is an easy guy to root for, he's a grinder that keeps his head down and plays with heart.
The Yakima Valley doesn't produce a ton of collegiate football talent. So when a homegrown guy like Brandon Battle does makes it, that's something we can all celebrate.
Micah Chen: firstname.lastname@example.org