Late surge not enough as Basalt football season ends vs TCA

The fight was there until the bitter end for the Longhorns, but the hole that was dug was too deep to climb out of.

Hosting No. 9 seed The Classical Academy (TCA) in the Class 2A playoffs on Saturday afternoon, the No. 8-seeded Basalt High School football team fell, 40-19, in the first-round game. TCA (8-2) will play No. 1 Delta in the quarterfinals next week, while BHS called it a season at 7-3 overall.

“As I just told the kids, there is only one team that is happy after all this,” longtime BHS coach Carl Frerichs said. “It’s just the reality of when you are in the playoffs. One team is happy, and one team is not. And we are the team that is unfortunately on the wrong side of it.”

The teams were playing for the first time since meeting in the first round of the 2019 playoffs, a 13-7 Basalt win in Colorado Springs. That fall, the Longhorns advanced to the semifinals — knocking off Rifle in double overtime in the quarters — before bowing out against Delta.

This time around, the offenses had a little more life to them, although it took a while for Basalt’s to really get going on Saturday.

“I don’t think we did our best job coaching in the first half. I think we got on our heels a little bit,” Frerichs said. “When we get on our heels, we seem to fold, and I was really proud of these kids battling for four quarters even though it wasn’t going our way.”

Basalt High School senior quarterback Noah Johnston runs with the ball against The Classical Academy on Saturday on the BHS field.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times
Basalt High School’s Parker Sims, right, defends a pass meant for The Classical Academy’s Will Schipfer on Saturday on the BHS field.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

The Titans dominated early, leading 7-0 after a quarter and 17-0 at halftime. Despite recovering a surprise onside kick to begin the second half, Basalt’s offense fumbled and TCA picked it up and returned it roughly 50 yards for a score and it was suddenly 24-0 not even a minute into the third quarter.

Add on an interception a short while later, followed by another TCA score, and it was 30-0 Titans at the 3:26 mark of the third.

“Once we settled in, we started to do our things and get a little momentum,” Frerichs said of the slow start. “We knew they were never going to give up out there. It’s the hardest thing in coaching: When you get so close to these seniors and it’s that last game and you see these guys go … that’s the hardest part.”

Basalt’s William Daniel runs with the ball against The Classical Academy on Saturday.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times
Basalt High School senior quarterback Noah Johnston steps back to pass against The Classical Academy on Saturday.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Basalt did battle back, a short TD pass from senior quarterback Noah Johnston to junior wideout Taylor Hays getting BHS on the board at 30-6 after three quarters. Another successful onside kick led to another short Johnston touchdown pass – this time to senior tight end Mav Dombrowski – that made it 30-12 early in the fourth quarter.

TCA was able to tack on a field goal before Basalt junior tailback William Daniel bulldozed his way into the end zone, the touchdown getting Basalt to within 14 points at 33-19 with 6:43 to play.

However, the rally ended with a late TCA touchdown pass, and that was all she wrote on the Longhorns’ season.

“Once we got the momentum going, it seemed we started to play a lot better and settle in,” Frerichs said. “It’s just credit to how hard these kids work and what they do for this program.”

Basalt High School’s Gage Balderson, left, chases down a Classical Academy runner.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times
Players from The Classical Academy celebrate an early touchdown against Basalt.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times
Basalt High School’s Mav Dombrowski catches a touchdown pass against TCA.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

After the game, the BHS coaches hugged each player on the team, and Frerichs was happy to talk about the impact this year’s senior class had on the program. This group went a combined 24-7 over the past three seasons, their freshman season having been the 5-2 campaign in 2021, played in the spring because of the pandemic.

“I love these guys, and I wish I could have them the next 20 years,” Frerichs said. “This is an incredible senior class. If people got to see how hard these kids work in the weight room and the classroom and how they treat each other, it’s super special. To me, that’s way more important than anything else. That’s going to be a really hard senior class to see go, but I know we have lots of kids who are excited to step up and do their parts as well in the future.”

Elsewhere across the 2A bracket, No. 12 Moffat County knocked off No. 5 Elizabeth, 31-21, and will play No. 4 Berthoud in the second round. No. 3 Rifle held off No. 14 Brush, 21-14, and will play No. 6 University next week.

The big upset was No. 15 Eaton — the defending state champions — beating No. 2 Kent Denver in the first round, 31-28. The Reds move on to play No. 10 Pagosa Springs in the next round.

Basalt High School defenders chase down a Classical Academy runner.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times
The Classical Academy quarterback Andrew Brown throws against Basalt.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Halftime hero wins $15k

During halftime of Basalt’s playoff game with TCA on Saturday, first-year BHS athletic director Jacob Ashworth staged a “punt, pass, and kick” contest, with $15,000 up for grabs (paid out by the school’s insurance policy). The first 100 people through the door on Saturday were allowed to sign up to compete, and it was Roaring Fork High School soccer standout Foster Hayes who was picked to participate.

And, well, he made it look easy. An impressive punt and throw set him up for a short field goal try, with Ashworth serving as the holder, and it sailed easily through the uprights. He immediately took off running in celebration.

Ashworth said they met the stipulations of the insurance plan, and that he expects Hayes to receive the full payout. The new AD also said he hopes to have similar activities — albeit maybe not always with a five-figure payout — at future BHS athletic events as a way to add extra excitement to the contests for spectators.

Foster Hayes runs across the field in celebration after successfully completing a punt, pass, and kick contest during halftime of the Basalt High School football playoff game against The Classical Academy on Saturday in Basalt. While BHS lost the game, Hayes, a standout soccer player at Roaring Fork High School, made easy work of the competition, his made field goal netting him a prize of $15,000, paid out by the school’s insurance plan.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times
Foster Hayes throws the ball during a punt, pass and kick contest during halftime of the Basalt High School football playoff game against The Classical Academy on Saturday.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Volleyball season ends for Aspen, Basalt at regionals

Area volleyball teams competed Saturday in regional play, with both Aspen and Basalt seeing their seasons come to an end.

In Region 2 hosted by No. 2 seed Jefferson Academy, the No. 23 Skiers went 0-2. They lost 3-2 to No. 35 Wellington and then fell 3-0 to the host Jaguars. Jefferson Academy also swept Wellington to advance to the 12-team state tournament.

Aspen finishes the season with a 13-10 overall record.

In Region 8 hosted by No. 8 seed Alamosa, Basalt went 0-2. The Longhorns lost 3-0 to Alamosa and then fell 3-1 to No. 17 University. It was University that played spoiler, also knocking off Alamosa, 3-1, to advance to state.

Basalt finishes the season with an 11-13 overall record.

In Region 9, No. 16 Rifle went 1-1, losing to No. 9 Resurrection Christian, which advanced.

Preps: Basalt football to host TCA in first round, volleyball teams head to regionals

With a pair of easy wins to finish out the regular season, the Basalt High School football team did just enough to secure a spot as the final first-round host when the Class 2A tournament gets underway this weekend.

The Longhorns, seeded No. 8 in the 16-team bracket, will play No. 9 The Classical Academy at 2 p.m. Saturday on the BHS field. Both teams enter the opening-round matchup with a 7-2 overall record.

The winner will advance to play either No. 1 Delta or No. 16 Alamosa in the second round. Those two will play each other at 1 p.m. Saturday in Delta.

Basalt enters the postseason winners of two straight, rolling over Coal Ridge (42-8) and Aspen (62-20) in recent weeks. This followed a two-game skid in which BHS lost to Rifle (55-27) and Moffat County (29-6). The Longhorns started the fall 5-0 before those losses.

TCA enters Saturday’s game on a current two-game skid, losing in back-to-back weeks to powerful Kent Denver (36-14) and Elizabeth (35-7) teams.

Basalt and TCA last played in 2019, also in the 2A first round. That season, No. 9 BHS went to Colorado Springs and beat No. 8 TCA, 13-7.

The remainder of this year’s first-round matchups include No. 4 Berthoud vs. No. 13 Wellington; No. 5 Elizabeth vs. No. 12 Moffat County; No. 2 Kent Denver vs. No. 15 Eaton; No. 7 La Junta vs. No. 10 Pagosa Springs; No. 6 University vs. No. 11 Florence; and No. 3 Rifle vs. No. 14 Brush.

Aspen finished the season 3-6 overall and did not make the playoffs.

Volleyball teams head to regionals

Class 3A regional play is set to get underway this weekend across the state. This includes both Aspen and Basalt, two of the 36 volleyball teams to qualify for one of the 12 three-team regional pods.

The Skiers (13-9 overall) will play in Region 2 as the No. 23 overall seed. Their pod includes No. 2 Jefferson Academy, the region host, and No. 35 Wellington. Only one team advances to the 12-team state tournament.

Saturday’s schedule has Jefferson Academy and Wellington playing at noon, while Aspen will play Wellington in the second game, and Aspen vs. Jefferson Academy will play in the third and final match.

Basalt, playing out of Region 8, is the No. 29 overall seed and will play in a region hosted by No. 8 Alamosa, along with No. 17 University. The Longhorns (11-12 overall) will play Alamosa in the first game of the region at 10 a.m. Saturday. Basalt and University will follow, with Alamosa and University playing in the third game.

Cross country season comes to an end

Both Aspen and Basalt traveled to Colorado Springs last Saturday for the Class 3A state championships, held at the Norris Penrose Event Center. As a team, the AHS girls finished 12th and the BHS girls 19th out of 20 scoring squads. The Classical Academy won the 3A girls title.

Individually, the top local finisher was Basalt’s Isabella Moon, who was 47th overall in 20 minutes, 50.2 seconds. Aspen’s Julia Diaz wasn’t far behind in 55th place (20:58.1), while her teammate Avila Jennings was 58th in 21:09.8.

Liberty Common’s Isabel Allori was the individual 3A girls champion (17:32.4).

Neither Basalt nor Aspen had enough qualifiers to post a team score on the boys side, also won by TCA in a sweep of the genders.

Individually, TCA’s Matthew Edwards won the 3A boys title in 15:20.7. Basalt’s Owen Lambert had a strong race, finishing 29th in 17:08.5 to lead the local runners. Basalt’s Towler Scott was 40th (17:23.1) and Aspen’s Jack Diaz was 102nd (18:38.3).

Roaring Fork soccer playoff run ends with 1-0 home loss to Liberty Common; BHS falls

Roaring Fork High School’s bid for a second Class 3A boys soccer championship ended Tuesday night at home in Carbondale at the hands of perennial powerhouse Liberty Common out of Fort Collins.

The Eagles claimed the 1-0 win off a penalty kick in the 62nd minute of play, after the Rams defense got called for the foul in the box. 

Liberty Common senior captain Brady Poore was good past the outreached arms of Roaring Fork goalie Noel Richardson, and the ninth-seeded Eagles held on through the final 18 minutes of play to secure the second-round playoff win on the No. 8 Rams’ home field.

The Rams had their chances throughout, dominating control of the ball in the first half but just missing on several quality runs at the goal.

“If we expect to win games, we have to put chances away in front of the goal,” veteran Roaring Fork coach Nick Forbes said afterward. “We make one mistake at the back that turns into a goal, and that’s the difference.

“We put some of those away when we have dominance, and the game changes in our favor.”

The Eagles made some halftime adjustments that paid off with scoring chances in the 46th and 49th minutes, but Richardson stood stout in goal for the Rams with several key saves.

Roaring Fork senior Yusbani Duarte thought he had rolled one past Liberty Common senior goalie Max Frevert in the 54th minute of play. However, Eagles senior defender Patrick Wrona got a foot on the ball just inches in front of the goal line to kick it away and preserve the scoreless match to that point.

A series of runs at the goal finally paid off for Liberty Common when the Rams got called for the foul, leading to the go-ahead goal. Roaring Fork couldn’t convert on a couple of set plays down the stretch, and the Eagles held on for the win to advance to the quarterfinals of the 3A tournament.

“It’s always a good battle, but it’s sad,” Liberty Common head coach Cyrus Salehi said after his team’s win. “(Roaring Fork) is easily a quarterfinal, semifinal or championship team like us, and the brackets have us playing each other in the second round.

“They got the better of us in the first half, and we knew coming in how they were going to play,” Salehi said. 

He added, “In the second half we switched some things up and played a little better, and we shut down (Rams senior and leading scorer Jake Barlow), which was a good game plan. He’s a great player, they’re well-coached, and they’re a great program. I have nothing negative to say about them.”

Liberty Common moves to 11-3-3 on the season, and will now face top-seeded Colorado Academy in the state quarterfinals on Saturday.

Roaring Fork concludes the season at 11-4-2, and bids adieu to 13 senior players, including Barlow, Richardson, Duarte, team captain Josh Hernandez, Foster Hayes, Bennett Jardine, Gabriel Salas, Cooper Chacos, Yandel Silva, Jose Canas, Jeffrey Candela, Eli Cohen and Maddox Stainton.

In other second-round playoff action involving area teams Tuesday, No. 6 Rifle won 2-0 at home over No. 11 Fort Lupton, No. 15 Coal Ridge upset No. 2 Kent Denver 3-2 on the road, and No. 19 Basalt lost 3-2 to No. 3 Peak to Peak.

The Longhorns finished the season 8-6-3 overall, the first under coach Thomas Olson.

Basalt football beats Aspen in finale, Frerichs wins 100th game as coach

A full moon and full stands served as Friday night’s backdrop in Basalt for the regular season finale against Roaring Fork Valley high school football rivals Aspen and Basalt.

While Aspen looked promising at times throughout, ultimately the game would end in the Longhorns favor, 62-20. BHS junior William Daniel did a lot of the damage, rushing for 240 yards on only 16 carries with five touchdowns.

In addition to Friday’s game being the regular-season finale, it was also senior night, as well as a game played in remembrance of Carson Clettenberg, who died in August 2022, just before his senior season at AHS.

Friday’s game also marked the 100th victory for Basalt head coach Carl Frerichs, who humbly acknowledged the honor by saying it just means he’s been “doing this for a long time.”

“My entire coaching staff has been with me pretty much the entire time — we’ve all had a great time together,” Frerichs said. “We have amazing families and amazing kids in Basalt and I couldn’t be happier with where I’m at. This is a big win for us. The kids were a little down after we had those two losses in a row, but we knew we were a damn good football team. 7-2 getting into the playoffs, we’re exactly where we want to be. We’re in the dance and that’s all that matters.”

Basalt High School junior William Daniel, right, stiff arms an Aspen defender on Friday.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

While the Longhorns won’t know the team’s official standing in the playoffs until Sunday, Frerichs said he’s fairly confident they can look forward to a home game next weekend. The Longhorns finished the regular season 7-2 overall and 3-2 in league. 

While it was a night to celebrate in Basalt, it was a bittersweet ending for the Skiers, who finished their season 3-6 overall and 2-3 in the league.

Aspen coach Eric McCready said the team gave up a lot early, which ultimately put them in a tough position to come back from once team efforts improved by the end of the second quarter.

“I felt like we had a really good game plan and we were just a step behind Basalt the whole game,” McCready said. “They just came out a little bit faster, came a little bit tougher. We say it all the time, it’s attitude and effort, and we didn’t start the game with it but we started fighting in the middle but by then that’s just a deep hole.”

It was the 10th straight win for Basalt over Aspen.

Basalt High School football senior quarterback Noah Johnston throws against Aspen on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023, on the BHS field.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times
Aspen High School football senior quarterback Tanner Benson throws against Basalt on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023, on the BHS field.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times
Basalt High School football seniors pose for a photo with family prior to hosting Aspen on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023, on the BHS field.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times
Basalt High School football senior Dayton Schenck greets family during the senior ceremony prior to hosting Aspen on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023, on the BHS field.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times
Basalt High School football seniors took part in a rose ceremony with their family prior to hosting Aspen on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023, on the BHS field.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times
Aspen High School football coach Eric McCready calls players onto the field prior to their game against Basalt on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023, on the BHS field.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times
Aspen High School senior quarterback Tanner Benson evades a Basalt tackler on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023, on the BHS field.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times
Basalt High School football hosts Aspen on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023, on the BHS field.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times
Aspen High School’s Henry Hurd carries the ball against Basalt on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023, on the BHS field.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times
Basalt High School football’s Taylor Hays eyes a running lane against Aspen on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023, on the BHS field.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times
Basalt High School football’s Will Tarallo runs for a gain against Aspen on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023, on the BHS field.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times
Basalt High School football senior quarterback Noah Johnston throws against Aspen on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023, on the BHS field.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times
The Basalt High School video board recognizes football coach Carl Frerichs and his 100th career win after BHS beat Aspen on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023, on the BHS field.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Aspen girls XC heads to state after surprise regional race; BHS girls in

What was expected to be a close battle turned into a rout for the Aspen High School girls cross country team on Oct. 19 at the regional meet, hosted by D’Evelyn in Denver.

The Skiers ran away from the field to win the Class 3A, Region 1 team title with 63 points, securing their spot in Saturday’s state championship race in Colorado Springs.

“We had a good shot at being one of the four teams to qualify. I thought maybe outside chance we could be top three, and if everything goes the way it should … the kids just ran great,” longtime AHS coach Chris Keleher said Thursday. “It was good to finally put the full team with everyone mostly healthy and they all rose to the occasion. The girls, especially, were so much fun to watch.”

This was the first regional title for Aspen since 2020, when the AHS girls won despite a 1-2-3 finish from Basalt.

Middle Park and Basalt each finished with 86 points, while Colorado Academy was fourth with 94 points. The top four teams qualified as a group for state.

Individually, Delta’s Paige Kehmeier won the girls race in 21 minutes, 1.40 seconds, while D’Evelyn’s Sabrea Schulte was second in 21:18.7. Basalt junior Isabella Moon was third (21:28) and Aspen freshman Annabelle Case was fourth (21:41.4).

Also landing a top-10 finish were Aspen juniors Ela Stevenson (eighth, 21:56.9) and Julia Diaz (ninth, 21:57.1). Basalt sophomore Caroline Cole was 11th in 21:59.5.

“It was kind of shocking to put three in the top 10,” Keleher admitted.

The Longhorn girls will compete at state Saturday with a full team, but will be doing so without 2023 graduates Katelyn Maley and Ava Lane, who are both now racing at the collegiate level (Princeton and Pittsburgh, respectively). Maley narrowly finished runner-up as a senior last fall in her bid for a three-peat. She won the individual title in both 2020 and 2021, while Basalt’s Sierra Bower (now at Furman) won in 2019.

In the regional boys race, Coal Ridge (64 points) edged D’Evelyn (68) for the win, followed by Moffat County (79) and Delta (108).

While they came up short of qualifying as a team, Aspen freshman Jack Diaz (Julia’s younger brother) qualified for state individually by finishing 14th in 18:51.4. For Basalt, both senior Owen Lambert and sophomore Towler Scott qualified. Lambert was third overall in the regional race (17:51.8), not far off the pace set by winner Owen Gifford of Moffat County (17:36.2) and runner-up Dallin Karren (17:40.3), a senior at Coal Ridge. Scott was seventh in 18:09.

Saturday’s state championship is held at the Norris Penrose Event Center. The 3A boys are scheduled to run at 12:20 p.m., while the 3A girls will follow at 1:40 p.m.

Roaring Fork opens 3A soccer playoffs with 3-0 win; Basalt advances

After taking a 1-0 lead just over five minutes into their first-round 3A state playoff game in Carbondale against the 25 seed, the Rams of Roaring Fork High School struggled to give themselves some extra cushion.

But a halftime coaches’ talk about calming down and simplifying their game paid off with two goals in the second half, en route to a 3-0 win for the eighth-seeded Rams over the Timnath Cubs Wednesday night. 

“This team’s really talented and sometimes they lean into that and play a little over-complicated, which can get in the way of efficiency,” head coach Nick Forbes said after the win. “That quality showed through in that second half, and I commend them for keeping with it and getting those goals.”

Roaring Fork senior Jacob Barlow found an opening to the left side of Timnath goalkeeper Kelian Willey at the 34:55 mark to give the home team the early advantage.

Three good chances to extend the lead at 24:30, 20:50 and 16 minutes left to play in the half all came up short for the Rams, though.

Timnath nearly tied it up with 12:50 to play, but the Rams defense was able to clear the ball from the box and keep the Cubs at bay.

“In the playoffs, it’s huge if you don’t bury that second chance and you can see what happens when the other team builds some momentum and feels like they can play,” Forbes said.

The Rams continued to dominate possession in the the second half, but again missed on a close shot with just over three minutes expired.

Barlow finally connected for his second goal off a double rebound at 25:39 when Willey knocked the first Rams shot away and the first rebound shot careened off the crossbar. But the ball came straight toward Barlow’s waiting foot, and finally Roaring Fork had some breathing room.

“The emotions in our team mean a lot to us, but sometimes we get a little in our heads too much,” Barlow said after the win. “As long as we focus on putting that goal away and play the way we’re supposed, It think we’ll be fine.” 

The extra insurance came at the 21:22 point in the half when senior Foster Hayes found an opening on the right side and knocked it home.

Roaring Fork is now set to play another perennial playoff team, No. 9 Liberty Common (5-0 winners over Salida Tuesday), for a second-round game at the Rams’ stadium next Tuesday. Roaring Fork tied the Eagles during the regular season, 3-3, in Fort Collins. 

Liberty Common knocked Roaring Fork out of last year’s playoffs in the quarterfinals, 3-0, on the Eagles’ home turf — one year after the Rams won the 3A state championship. 

“We’ve probably played them more in the playoffs than any other team, so we kind of know what we’re getting into,” Forbes said of the rematch. “We have a lot of things to work on this week to simplify our play and be more efficient in front of the goal. If we can do that, we can beat them.”

Around the region

In other first-round playoff action on Wednesday, No. 6 Rifle won 5-2 over No. 27 Rocky Mountain Prep SMART, and No. 15 Coal Ridge was a 2-1 winner over No. 18 Atlas Prep.

No. 19 Basalt pulled an upset on the road Wednesday, beating No. 14 DSST: College View, 5-3. With the win, the Longhorns advance to face No. 3 Peak to Peak on Tuesday. The Pumas were an 11-1 winner over No. 30 Bayfield in the first round.

Players try heading the ball in the goal box during Rifle’s game against Rocky Mountain Prep SMART on Wednesday.
Theresa Hamilton/Courtesy
Action between Coal Ridge soccer against Atlas Preparatory School on Wednesday.
Theresa Hamilton/Courtesy

Basalt among five area soccer teams to qualify for state tournament

Five area high school teams have earned a spot in the upcoming state soccer tournaments. Basalt, Glenwood Springs, Rifle, Roaring Fork and Coal Ridge are gearing up for the highly anticipated playoffs.

Glenwood is the only team from Garfield County competing in the Class 4A tournament, seeded No. 10. They’ll face No. 23 Montrose at 6 p.m. on Thursday at Stubler Memorial Field. With a regular-season record of 9-5-1, the Demons aim to build on their earlier 6-2 victory against Montrose. 

Coach Juan Quintero remains confident. 

“We still have our best soccer ahead of us,” Quintero said. “Even in our toughest losses, we have kept it close and stayed competitive. This team is really talented. It’s about consistency for us at this point.”

In the 3A playoffs, No. 19 Basalt, led by coach Thomas Olson, will take on No. 14 College View at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Englewood High School. With a regular-season record of 7-5-3, Basalt looks to make a strong postseason push. 

“We are hoping for a good run this year,” Olson said. “We made a good run last year, but came up short. We are ready to flip the switch, and I think we have the team to be able to do that.”

Rifle’s sixth-seeded Bears, with an impressive 13-2 record, host No. 27 Rocky Mountain Prep School at 4 p.m. Wednesday. They carry a nine-game winning streak into the playoffs. Rifle is eager to make amends for an earlier loss to Roaring Fork.

No. 8 Roaring Fork is set to play No. 25 Timnath at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Carbondale Middle School. With a 10-3-2 regular-season record and second-place finish in the Western Slope (6-1-1 in league play), the Rams aim to make their mark despite a critical loss to Glenwood.

The 15th-seeded Coal Ridge Titans will host No. 18 Atlas Preparatory School at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Titans held an eight-game win/tie streak before losing their final regular-season game to Rifle (1-0). Senior Alexis Serna highlighted the team’s mentality that has been stressed throughout the duration of the season. 

“Coach (Michael) Mikalakis has stressed the three C’s to us all season: character, community and competitiveness,” Serna said. “That’s something we have carried with us all season and something that we are carrying into this game.”

In the playoffs, these five teams face a single-elimination format. To advance, they must secure victory in each round. 

“This is where it really matters,” Serna said. “From here on, each game could be my last and I don’t want that. We have the same end goal as everyone else in this tournament.”

No joke: Longhorn soccer advances playoff position after 4-1 win in Aspen

The Aspen High School boys soccer team faced off at home against the Basalt Longhorns on Saturday for a regular-season finale that would determine the playoff standing for both teams: the Longhorns hoped to make a better playoff spot, whereas the Skiers hoped to make the playoffs.

Unfortunately for Aspen, the Longhorns would prevail in a 4-1 win, ending the Skiers season with an overall 5-7-2 record and 2-5-1 league record. Aspen’s head coach Oren Schragger said that after playing 10 games within three weeks, fatigue was to be expected and was likely the cause for the team’s slow start in the first half of Saturday’s game.

Basalt Longhorns junior (15) Brandon Alfaro-Rivas defends the ball against Aspen Skiers junior (9) Luka Jaramaz during Saturday’s game at Aspen High School.
Jonson Kuhn/The Aspen Times

“We weren’t happy with the way we started the first half, we were a little bit slow on the back end of it, but then in the second half, if we had come out in the first half the way we came out in the second half, we probably would have won this game,” Schragger said. “We’re happy with the whole season in general, it’s tough to boil it down to just today because a lot of work goes into winning three games in a row and then the confidence that you go into a game like this and with a team that you’ve tied before.”

Early this month, the two valley rivals faced off in Basalt for a game that would end in a 2-2 tie, leaving the Skiers optimistic for the late October rematch. But despite solid center-midfield pressure from senior Christopher “Bodi” McDowell, aggressive offense from senior Sasha Forman, and a late second quarter score from freshman Ryan Nitti, the Longhorns proved to be the dominant team on Saturday.

Aspen Skiers senior (6) Sasha Forman dribbles the ball down field against Basalt Longhorns senior (4) Eric Vasquez during Saturday’s game at Aspen High School.
Jonson Kuhn/The Aspen Times

“It was a good fight today and we’re disappointed with the result but I’m proud of our guys for fighting through and putting one through and making it a game,” Schragger said.

Basalt head coach Thomas Olson said that while the team isn’t necessarily known for being a “high-scoring team,” the explosive offense from senior Eric Vasquez and junior Brandon Alfaro-Rivas couldn’t be denied as having made all the difference. Vasquez scored the first goal of the first half and the Longhorns fourth goal with two minutes left in the second, with Alfaro-Rivas claiming the second and third goal in the first.

“They never stopped pushing and never took their foot off the gas; they kept their heads, so I give those two and big up for that,” Olson said. “The team is adapting to formation and that was really huge so we can go out and shift formations mid-match and it doesn’t change our philosophy and so it’s been huge. The boys had great touch, the ball moved well and we had a lot of opportunities.”

Aspen Skiers head coach Oren Schragger takes a knee with the team for the last time this season after Saturday’s game against the Basalt Longhorns at home in Aspen.
Jonson Kuhn/The Aspen Times

With an overall record of 7-5-3 and sitting at 3-3-2 in league after Saturday’s win, Olson said he hopes the team will advance from their 18th seed in the playoffs to 16th with a chance of hosting in Basalt. Olson said they won’t know who they’re facing off against until Monday, so until then the team will remain focused on themselves and ensure they can maintain form and keep their heads up high.

“Today was a full team effort,” Olson said. “I couldn’t be more proud of these boys, they’ve really shown great work ethic throughout the whole season, so I’m happy to see them finish above .500 this year.”

Despite Summit’s late-game push, Glenwood Springs football tames Tigers, 50-33

“The boys got a new lease on life,” new Glenwood Springs High School football coach Eric Bollock said at halftime.

So much noise surrounded the Glenwood homecoming game on Friday, but the Demons muffled it all and won their homecoming game against Summit, 50-33.

Bollock had only been the head coach of the Demons for three days, but the way they played, it seemed as if he had been in charge for the past four years. Glenwood came out with a fire unbeknownst to the team that got beat by Durango 48-0 just a week prior.

“Just gotta stay excited about it,” Bollack explained. “I told them we are going to have fun playing the game of football.”

Glenwood clearly got the message. They came out of the gates playing with an intensity rarely seen on Stubler Memorial Field this season. The first play from scrimmage was taken 46 yards nearly to the house, but senior Mason Markovich was taken down just inches from the goal line. Two plays later, Max Bollock, son of the new head coach, picked the bad snap off the ground and broke the plane for the game’s first points. The 2-point conversion was successful, and the Demons had an 8-0 lead just 1:04 into the first quarter.

On the next drive, Markovich broke free for another 40-plus yard touchdown run before finishing their third drive with a 15-yard rush for his second touchdown of the first half. Markovich had a choke-hold on the game’s outcome, and every big play ignited the home crowd. 

“It’s homecoming,” Bollock said. “The boys are excited, and that’s what we have been working on in the two days I’ve been in charge. It’s all about playing with a fire in your gut.”

The Demons entered the half with a 22-6 lead, their first lead entering the break since Sept. 8 against Rifle. 

The second half began sloppy. An extended halftime for the homecoming festivities may have enabled rust to grow over both offenses. Four straight turnovers started the half. Summit couldn’t get the ball past the chains, and they turned the ball over to Glenwood, but a strip sack set the Tigers up at the Demons’ 42-yard line. Two plays later, Summit coughed up the ball back to the Demons. Glenwood didn’t have the ball long, as they coughed it up on their first set of downs. 

Summit began to assemble a drive after that as they worked their way into the red zone. Max Bollock didn’t care for the Tigers scoring on that drive, though. He snatched the ball from a Summit receiver’s hands, stopping the Tigers’ drive and giving the offense a long field. It was something Markovich didn’t want to deal with, so he just took the first snap 90 yards to the house to put the Demons up 30-6.

He wasn’t done there. The two-way player stayed on the field for Summit’s ensuing drive and made another game-defining play. This time, Markovich was the one to snatch the ball out of midair as he made his fourth trip to the endzone, giving Glenwood a 36-6 lead. 

A different game was played in the fourth quarter, and Summit wasn’t going down without a fight. They calmed their nerves and put together a solid drive, capping it with a 4-yard touchdown pass to reach double digits, though their two-point try failed. 

The Tigers recovered a sneaky onside kick to set up their third touchdown drive, bringing the game within striking distance 36-18. They tried their instant onside kick out of the huddle once again, to no avail.

Glenwood had excellent field position after recovering the short kick, but a Summit defender knocked the ball loose, giving the Tigers new life. Summit’s coaches decided to have fun on their next drive. A simple out route was seemingly taken care of, but the Summit receiver pitched the ball to his teammate as he was getting tackled, and the hook and ladder worked beautifully. Six quickly turned into eight as the Tigers weren’t done with their trickery. A gorgeous double pass worked perfectly to bring the score within two possessions, 36-26.

Glenwood had enough at that point. This time, they were the ones to calm their nerves as they put together a long touchdown drive of their own. Capped by a 25-yard rushing touchdown from quarterback Joaquin Sandoval, the Demons extended their lead to 42-26.

With more than 10 minutes still on the clock and a scary Summit offense, no one in the crowd felt safe with the lead. Summit immediately drove back down the field but couldn’t get past the Demons’ brick wall goal-line defense. Glenwood held them on fourth and goal, stealing the ball and all of the momentum back. 

A bad snap broke the Demons’ first down play, but Sandoval picked the ball off the ground and took it 90 yards to the house to ensure the game was fully locked away. 

“Finish strong and keep battling,” Bollock told his team. “We had to stay in the game and stay excited. We told them we believed in them, and they had to come together as a team and regroup.”

Glenwood improved to 4-4 on the season, and with their recent rejuvenation, the sky is the limit for this young Demons team. Glenwood travels to Eagle Valley next week to face the Devils before finishing their season at home against the Palisade Bulldogs. 

“We have some stuff we can tune up on both sides of the ball,” Bullock said. “We’re gonna build on this and just have to take it one play at a time, one quarter at a time, one half at a time.”

In Class 2A on Friday, Basalt won 42-8 over Coal Ridge to end a two-game skid. Aspen fell 64-28 to Moffat County. The regular season finishes for both next Friday, when Aspen makes the journey to Basalt.

Glenwood Springs High football announces coaching changes ahead of homecoming game

Glenwood Springs High School headed into its homecoming game on Friday with a change in leadership, following the termination of first-year head football coach Hunter Holmes and his assistant and father, Robert Holmes. The school cited a confidential personnel matter as the reason for its abrupt dismissal.

Hunter had started the season on a high note, leading the Demons to an initial 3-0 record. Recent weeks, however, have seen the team’s momentum falter, with their record now standing at 4-4 after Friday’s 50-33 win over Summit, played without him on the sideline. Notable for his energy and experience garnered from roles at collegiate and other successful high school football programs, he has drawn criticism this year due to unsportsmanlike conduct, including in games against Rifle and Basalt.

“Coach Holmes is a great person,” senior quarterback Joaquin Sandoval said. “I think at the end of the day, there was a lot of drama on the field and in the locker room that needed to be figured out.”

The dismissal of Hunter and his father, Robert, is a notable development, given the recent merger of the Glenwood Springs and Roaring Fork football programs, resulting from Roaring Fork’s inability to field a complete varsity roster. 

Glenwood Springs police arrested Robert on Wednesday on a warrant out of Bexar County, Texas, for a stalking charge. He posted a $2,500 surety bond and was released from Garfield County Jail following a court hearing.

Hunter said the matter regarding his father was a personal matter.

Eric Bollock, former Roaring Fork head coach and current wide receivers coach for Glenwood, has been appointed the interim head coach for the Demons.

“The past three or four months for me has been a whirlwind, if you can imagine,” he said. “I am ready to take it one day at a time and try to get these boys prepared for the next game.”

Hunter’s unexpected exit came without prior warning regarding his sideline conduct. He alleges he was blindsided by the termination. He had not received any communication from Glenwood Springs Athletic Director Craig Denney, despite attempts to reach out for clarification.

Hunter said he was notified of his termination via email.

The school community and administration are rallying to support the team amid these changes. Principal Paul Freeman expressed optimism for the future under the guidance of Bollock, commending his capabilities as a coach.

Freeman declined to comment on the termination of Holmes, but said they hope that Bollock, who Freeman called a “formidable candidate,” applies for the job for next season.

Sandoval, a pivotal figure on the team, is optimistic about the shift in coaching staff. He praised Bollock and looks forward to seeing how the team will progress for the remainder of the season.

“I am excited to see how the rest of the season plays out,” Sandoval said. “Coach Bollock is a great coach, and we had a great day of practice on Thursday. There isn’t a lot of belief in us right now, and I think we are ready to turn that around.”

Hunter, despite his termination, maintains support for his former team and is optimistic about the players’ academic and athletic progress, particularly highlighting the special freshman class.

“I am going to be their number one fan, but I don’t want to be a distraction for these kids,” he said. “I wish nothing more than for these kids to have a great rest of the year.”

The team was focusing on unity and preparation for its homecoming game on Friday. Despite the adversity, there is a collective effort to ensure the student athletes’ experience remains at the forefront, embodying the resilient spirit of the Glenwood Springs Demons.

Bollock reiterated his dedication to fostering a positive environment for the players, emphasizing the essence of football and distancing from the recent upheavals.

“I’m here to play the game of football,” he said. “I don’t want the drama and the chatter and the unsportsmanlike conduct; I just want these kids to be passionate about the game.”