2A football playoffs: Aspen travels to Classical Academy, Basalt to host Salida
The Basalt High School football team will host a playoff game for the second consecutive season.
Aspen will play in its first postseason game since 2013, and for the first time under second year head coach Karson Pike.
“This is all new to our guys,” Pike said. “How we handle ourselves on the trip and the day of the game and all those sorts of things matter quite a bit. It’s going to be new for all of us.”
The Class 2A state playoff bracket was announced Sunday with Aspen (8-1 overall) landing a No. 12 seed. The Skiers will play No. 5 seed Classical Academy (8-1) at 7 p.m. Friday in Colorado Springs.
Basalt (8-1) is the 16-team tournament’s No. 6 seed and will host No. 11 seed Salida (7-2); the game is set for 1 p.m. Saturday.
“I’m very proud of our team to be a six seed. I think that’s a huge accomplishment,” BHS coach Carl Frerichs said. “That’s a huge advantage being at home in front of our crowd. But we are going to have to be ready, because on film they got some skills and some kids that can definitely play.”
Classical Academy had been a strong program under former head coach David Bervig, going 40-17 in his five seasons from 2012 to 2016. Justin Rich, an assistant with the team the two seasons before this one, took over in March and the team hasn’t missed much of a beat.
Rich, who went 1-9 in each of his seasons as head coach at Palmer (2012 and 2013), was an assistant on the offensive line at CSU-Pueblo when the team won the NCAA Division II national championship in 2014.
The Titans are 3-1 this season against teams that made the 2A playoffs, including a 27-19 win over Salida. They also beat Sterling 24-7 and D’Evelyn 24-21. Their only loss came Sept. 29 at La Junta, 21-11. La Junta (8-1) is the tournament’s No. 4 seed, and its only loss came 10-7 on Sept. 23 at Kent Denver, which is 9-0 and the tournament’s No. 2 seed.
“Obviously a really sound football club. Doing a lot of things that put defenses in a bind offensively,” Pike said of Classical Academy. “Big and physical on the defensive side of the ball and quality special teams, so we are going to have to bring our best game to make sure we come out on the right side of victory.”
Salida is having a breakout season under coach Eric Handke, who took over the program in 2013. The Spartans only had one winning season under Handke before this one, going 6-3 in 2014. They went 2-7 in 2016 and 3-6 in 2015.
The team’s best win this season is a 30-22 win over Pagosa Springs, which is the tournament’s No. 13 seed. Salida’s losses came Oct. 6 against Classical Academy (27-19) and Oct. 20 at La Junta (39-16).
“They run the triple option and they do it well,” Frerichs said of Salida’s unique offense. “We’re going to have to play responsible football, but that’s no different from the other teams we’ve played. Our kids have to do their jobs or there are going to be openings.”
Basalt, which won the 2A Western Slope League for the second consecutive season, was a No. 8 seed in 2016, losing to No. 9 seed D’Evelyn in the first round, 27-20. Prior to that, BHS hadn’t been to the postseason since 2012.
Platte Valley (9-0) is the No. 1 seed for this year’s tournament and faces No. 16 seed D’Evelyn in the first round. Other first-round matchups include No. 9 Sterling at No. 8 Eaton, Pagosa Springs at La Junta, No. 14 Elizabeth at No. 3 Bayfield, No. 10 Bishop Machebeuf at No. 7 Faith Christian, and No. 13 Resurrection Christian at Kent Denver.
The Basalt-Salida winner will face the Bayfield-Elizabeth winner in the quarterfinals, while the Aspen-Classical Academy winner gets the La Junta-Pagosa Springs victor. The highest remaining seed will host.
UPDATE: Basalt’s playoff game against Salida has officially been given a 1 p.m. start time on Saturday, per BHS athletic director Sean Nunan.
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