Colbert: What a wacky Monday
Rarely does a Monday produce so much high school sports news. So, yesterday seemed as good a day as any to write my first Prep Playbook column (maybe it's not the most original name…), which I intend to run each Tuesday going forward during the high school season.
Going back to Monday, hopefully you saw the Aspen High School softball team won its first game since 2009. These current seniors, who make up the majority of the roster, would have been in the third grade then. So, kudos to them for the persistence, and to coach Dave Fuentes for continuing to keep things positive.
While the AHS softball team's win was a good surprise, there was nothing surprising about the other part of Monday's news. For the 10th straight year, the AHS boys golf team won a regional championship. I don't care what sport you are playing, that's a long time to maintain championship form.
So, kudos to coach Mary Woulfe and to the boys for their continued success. This team, however, really is something special. I truly believed going into the season that this year's group could win the state championship, and they've done nothing this past month to make me go back on that belief.
The state tournament is Oct. 1 and 2 (with my birthday being Oct. 3, in case you wanted to know) in Boulder. It's a tall task to put together two good rounds in two days to win the thing, but I have a difficult time believing there is a more experienced or more talented team in the state than what the Skiers will put on the golf course those two days.
Now, some more ramblings from the sports editor.
What stood out about last week's competition? At the top of that list is probably how good both the Aspen and Basalt football teams look. Yes, I doubted AHS football coming into the season without coach Karson Pike and longtime quarterback R.J. Peshek, who graduated. Most everyone else did, as well, including the returning players.
Obviously, there is nothing to worry about. Led by Travis Benson, the coaching staff remained mostly intact and has continued what Pike started. Sophomore quarterback Tyler Ward, while a completely different mold of player than Peshek, looks just fine under center after three games.
The Skiers' offense is every bit as dangerous as it was a season ago.
Basalt, led by a defense that has given up all of six points in three games, might be better than it's been. Like, ever. The Longhorns could and should roll through their next three opponents before facing a challenging final three games — Delta, Rifle and senior day against Aspen. Rifle is still my pick to win the Class 2A Western Slope League, but Aspen and Basalt have both given me reason to believe they more than have a chance.
This Friday, Aspen football will be at Grand Valley while Basalt heads to Paonia.
This is a quiet week for area teams, and there isn't much to offer at home. Basalt volleyball has a couple of big games to keep an eye on, beginning Tuesday night at Roaring Fork. On Thursday, the Longhorns host Coal Ridge, which hasn't finished a season with less than 17 wins since going a meager 14-8 in 2011. Long story short, the Titans have terrorized the Western Slope for a long time and you can see them up close and personal when they visit Basalt on Thursday.
BHS is way too young to likely stand a chance against Coal Ridge, but this is a team that is building toward a bright future over the next few years. Win or lose, it'll provide them with a great foundation to build upon.
Regarding Coal Ridge's reign of terror, I really think Aspen has a chance to bring it to an end this season. The 3-0 Skiers are in Arizona on Friday and Saturday at a tournament. Aspen's next home game? That would be Oct. 2 against Coal Ridge.
Let's start by saying the rankings released each Monday by CHSAANow.com mean absolutely nothing. They are mostly the opinions of journalists like myself and, unlike the Rating Percentage Index (RPI), have no bearing on who makes the postseason.
Still, the polls give us something to talk about during the week, so let's talk.
Most noteworthy ranking? Aspen volleyball is No. 10 in 3A this week. I can't tell you the last time they were ranked, but it's probably been a while. Is this really a top-10 team? I have no doubt. There needs to be more people at Aspen volleyball games going forward.
In football, Basalt is up to No. 5 (from No. 8 last week) in 2A, while Aspen is getting a couple of votes to be ranked. Rifle is No. 4 and getting a couple of first-place votes. Basalt travels to Rifle Oct. 19 in the second-to-last game of the regular season. Aspen is at Rifle on Oct. 12. Dream scenario? Aspen vs. Basalt in the regular-season finale for the 2A WSL crown. Not impossible.
By the way, mighty Bayfield lost to Class 3A Durango last week, ending a streak of 16 straight wins (No. 16 being a 20-8 win over Aspen on Sept. 8). Bayfield, the defending 2A state champs, dropped to No. 3 this week behind No. 1 La Junta and No. 2 Platte Valley.