1966 league champ Basalt Longhorn football team will reunite Friday
BASALT’S 115TH BIRTHDAY
The Basalt Regional Heritage Society is throwing a party Saturday to celebrate the town’s 115th birthday.
The gathering will be from noon to 2 p.m. at Arbaney Park. The historians will supply lemonade, plates, cups and utensils. Participants are asked to bring a dessert or main dish. Everyone is welcome.
Arbaney Barn will be open to display the heritage’s society’s collection of artifacts.
Some football champions from yesteryear will return to Basalt High School today to provide some inspiration to this year’s promising team.
The 1966 team is holding a 50-year reunion during this year’s homecoming against Aspen. The ’66 team won the Colorado River Valley League title and advanced to the Class A playoffs. Beating valley rivals Aspen and Roaring Fork were among the highlights of the year.
It was quite a remarkable accomplishment to win the title because Basalt’s football program was still fielding just an eight-man team just four years prior, according to Leroy Duroux, a member of the team from 1963-66. He became mayor of the town in the 2000s.
Basalt’s first football squad was formed in 1951 when it fielded just a six-man team, according to Basalt Regional Heritage Society historian and Basalt High alumna Janice Duroux, Leroy’s wife. The players from Basalt played on Roaring Fork High School’s team in 1960 and 1961 after a state-mandated consolidation that was later rescinded.
The Basalt team had only 11 players total in fall 1962, according to Leroy Duroux. There were enough players the following year for an 11-man squad. Duroux recalled that the team during his freshman year failed to score a point and lost all of its games. The team managed 13 points the following year but still lost all of its games.
The team showed improvement the following year, with 28 players and at least three victories. (There are conflicting memories.)
The ’66 team’s accomplishments are more memorable. Duroux said there were 30 players and the team went undefeated in league play.
“It was a lot more fun to win games than lose games,” he said. “We were nothing fancy, just a grind-it-out team.”
As a senior, he played center on the offensive line and middle guard on defense. Duroux earned all-league honors for his play that season. He recalled that Mike Delost was a standout running back.
Delost also earned league honors, as did guard Glen Sharp and interior linebacker Steve Damm. Coach Bryon Lewis was coach of the year.
The team played Soroco in the first round of the playoffs but lost in a snowstorm in Oak Creek, according to Janice.
The idea for a reunion came about when Janice realized it was 50 years since the team won its first league championship. She got the ball rolling for the gathering.
Leroy said about six teammates are still around the valley. He said quite a few of the 30 members of the team have pledged to return for the reunion and today’s game.
“I haven’t seen some of them for 50 years,” he said.
They are getting together for a barbeque prior to the 7 p.m. game at Basalt High School. They will be introduced in a ceremony before the game and then gather with the current team afterward.
The members of the team included Steve Diemoz, Gerald Duroux, Bert Pearce, John McLaren, Herbert Brown, Randy Lane and Larry Nye, who were freshmen on the ’66 squad.
Sophomores were Bob Darien, Mike Delost, Steve Deming, Roger Sharp, Scott Child, Ron Arbaney, Paul Woolsey, Mike Rogers, the late Gary Damm, Rick Jurick, Vernon Snead, Randy Lane, Mike Ostberg, Jerry Short, Mike Sterker, Scott Child and Richard Davis.
Juniors were Dennis Bouwens, Randy Glassier, Dick Lowerderback, David Hermes and Bill Holbert
Seniors were Alvin Arlian, Dan Arbaney, Stephen Damm, Leroy Duroux, Larry Ward, the late Bill Clark, Jerry Short and Wayne Hyrup. The late Glen Sharp will be represented by his grandson Jerrad.
The team’s assistant coach was Bob Stephens, now deceased.
Lewis, now 84, is coming from Idaho and will receive special recognition. He was known as “Coach” from Aspen to Basalt because of his longtime involvement in the schools of both towns and his interest in athletics. He was in public school education for 40 years, was a classroom teacher for 10 years, a counselor for 11 years, an administrator for 11 years and a football coach for 15 years.
Duroux said he doesn’t believe this year’s team needs much inspiration. They won their opening league game last week by blanking Steamboat Springs, 49-0. They are 3-2 overall going into the intra-valley matchup with Aspen.
“I’m thrilled about their success,” Duroux said.
Basalt Athletic Director Sean Nunan said it will be “fantastic” to have the 1966 team interacting with today’s athletes in Basalt. It will drive home the point that the team has support and how important athletics can be in character building, he said.
“I think it really gives a sense of community within our community here,” Nunan said.
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