Aspen football looks to keep momentum, hosts Steamboat Springs on Saturday

Aspen High School football plays against Montezuma-Cortez on Friday, April 2, 2021, on the AHS turf.
Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

The game will feature two teams fighting for their playoff lives. It will also feature two teams coming off impressive first wins that will look to keep the momentum rolling.

Fresh off a wild win last week, the Aspen High School football team will host Steamboat Springs on Saturday afternoon in a battle of 1-2 teams. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. on the AHS turf.

“They are a lot in the same boat that we are with the condensed season and in the spring versus the fall with young players,” AHS coach Travis Benson said of Steamboat. “They are making huge steps forward every week, just like we are.”

The Skiers opened the season with road losses to Glenwood Springs (41-14) and Rifle (56-14), arguably two of the best teams in this spring’s one-off Class 3A. But Aspen responded in a big way last Friday, beating Montezuma-Cortez in its home opener, 40-28, to finally get in the win column and keep its playoff hopes alive.

Held to 14 points in each of their first two games, the Skiers’ offense really came alive against the Panthers, while the AHS defense only got better as the game progressed and made many key stops in the latter parts of the contest to hold on for the win.

“Offensively we got the ball moving,” Benson said of what he liked out of last week’s game. “The second one would be just the aggressiveness on both sides of the ball. Kids are starting to play with that confidence.”

Steamboat opened its season against Montezuma-Cortez, losing 12-3. The Sailors then lost 34-14 to Basalt before a 38-0 rout of Salida last week to get their first win.

Neither Aspen nor Steamboat is ranked (top eight) in this week’s poll, voted on by media and the like, although they would effectively be No. 9 and No. 11, respectively.

However, Aspen was ranked No. 7 in 3A in RPI (rating percentage index) prior to the Friday night games, an important number considering that’s what will largely determine playoff seeding. Steamboat was only No. 14 in RPI in the 16-team classification as of early Friday.

This will be a rare Saturday afternoon game for Aspen, but with it comes a few advantages, such as warmer weather and that extra day of practice during the week, which can be especially beneficial when trying to build momentum from a big win.

“Practice has been solid. Gaining an extra day helps,” Benson said. “A lot of cleaning up of mistakes.”