Aspen undecided on return to football this fall, Basalt and RE-1 opting for spring
After a week of mixed messages and increased pressure from coaches, players and parents, the Colorado High School Activities Association announced late Wednesday the fall football season was back on, should schools choose to take part.
For Aspen High School, that decision was not made Thursday. AHS Athletic Director Martha Richards spent a good chunk of the day talking with other Western Slope AD’s, as well as AHS Principal Sarah Strassburger and Aspen School District Superintendent David Baugh, although too many questions remained for them to make a declaration.
“We are looking at everything and taking everything into consideration,” Richards said Thursday evening. “For us, we are still evaluating everything and trying to let the dust settle and see where we are as a district.”
Roaring Fork School District RE-1, which includes Basalt, Roaring Fork and Glenwood Springs, announced in a news release Thursday afternoon they were opting out of the fall season and will play football in the spring. Cedaredge, which plays in the Class 1A Western Slope League with Grand Valley and is a frequent non-league opponent of Aspen’s of late, announced on Twitter late Thursday it had voted to go ahead and play football this fall.
“We are working closely with other teams in our leagues so that we can offer a competitive football season for each of our schools next spring as currently provided in the CHSAA schedule, even if that means playing teams in other conferences,” the RE-1 news release said. “We are all eager to give our kids opportunities to resume normal activities but we cannot make decisions that jeopardize our students’ or staff members’ safety.”
Schools have until 8 a.m. Monday to decide if they want to play this fall, which is dubbed Season A. They still have the option to play in Season C, with games beginning in March, which had been the original plan for football in the new four-season approach CHSAA opted for during this pandemic-influenced school year. Teams are not allowed to play in both the fall and spring, and CHSAA said a state champion will be crowned for each season.
According to a report by The Denver Post, CHSAA Assistant Commissioner Adam Bright “said early estimations are that 75 to 80 percent of Colorado high school football teams will play in the fall.”
Boys soccer and volleyball, both traditionally fall sports along with football, were not part of CHSAA’s announcement Wednesday night and won’t play until the spring. Field hockey and sideline spirit, however, were given the go ahead to participate in fall activities along with football.
Football teams that decide to opt in for the fall can begin practice Thursday, with games starting as soon as Oct. 8. The first round of the eight-team playoffs would begin Nov. 21, with the state championship games scheduled for Dec. 5.
Season C in the spring, which seems to be where much of the 3A and 2A Western Slope is putting their focus, will start practice Feb. 25 with the first competition scheduled for March 11.
While weather can be a major hurdle for spring sports in the mountains, Richards is adamant they can make it work.
“We are very fortunate in Aspen to have a new state-of-the-art turf field, and we are accustomed to preparing it every spring for boys and girls lacrosse and girls soccer,” Richards said. “So if we play boys soccer and football in Season C, it won’t be an issue because we get our field ready for lacrosse and girls soccer every year during this same window of time. For schools with grass fields, it may be more challenging. However, I really believe that if they have a girls soccer team that they get their field ready for every spring, that they’ll be able to get their field ready for football and boys soccer.”
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