Basalt football finds way past Steamboat in scrappy game, eyes Rifle showdown
Carl Frerichs had prepared for a shotgun-heavy Steamboat Springs offense entering Saturday’s game, but the Basalt High School football coach had to work some magic when the Sailors uncorked a surprise option-centered attack against the Longhorns.
It all worked out for Basalt in a 34-14 league win at Gardner Field in Steamboat, but it certainly had to be earned.
“Makes it hard when you prep all week and then they change their offense. They did some good things and they definitely did not hurt themselves,” Frerichs said. “We just didn’t have a lot up our sleeve, and credit to them.”
Basalt opened the unique spring season as Class 3A’s preseason No. 1 team and won 55-0 over Salida last week at home. BHS, for reasons unknown, dropped to No. 2 this week behind preseason No. 2 Rifle, while Steamboat came in well off the grid.
The Sailors came out swinging on Saturday, a key fourth-and-13 conversion leading to a short touchdown run by senior Finn Russell on their first possession to make it 7-0 home team with about eight minutes already chewed off the clock.
While the BHS defense had a few issues, the offense ran like clockwork most of the game. The Longhorns answered right back, scoring on their first possession when junior Cole Dombrowski scored from a couple of yards out to make it 7-7 after the first quarter.
On the next possession, Basalt took a 14-7 lead thanks to an 8-yard catch from speedy senior Rulbe Alvarado on a fade to the left corner of the end zone from senior quarterback Matty Gillis.
Basalt had a chance to take firm control on its next two possessions, but the first ended with a Gillis interception in the end zone by Steamboat senior Chris Morris, and the Sailors stopped BHS on the final play of the first half when the Longhorns had the ball inside the SSHS 10-yard line.
“Offensively we played really well. We moved the ball. We missed some opportunities,” Frerichs said. “Defensively, we take ownership as coaches. I just don’t think we had a very good game plan. It was a 50-50 thing with the game plan and just execution and all of the above.”
Basalt got it together to open the second half, walking right down the field and finishing the drive with a short TD run by junior Gavin Webb, a missed extra point making it 20-7 Longhorns. A quick Steamboat punt led to another Basalt scoring drive, this one ending with a 7-yard TD run by sophomore Trevin Beckman for a 27-7 lead.
Steamboat didn’t back down as sophomore quarterback Cade Gedeon connected with junior receiver Ben Schott from 23 yards out for a score to cut it to 27-14 with a touch less than 10 minutes to play.
The Sailors were gifted a couple of late chances to get back into the game, but couldn’t capitalize. BHS put the game away when Gillis found Alvarado for a 4-yard TD with only a couple of minutes to go.
“They are a big, physical team. They are going to give a lot of teams a tough run. They were a lot bigger than what we were expecting,” Frerichs said of Steamboat. “You learn so much when it’s a battle, and I think we learned a lot about ourselves and things we need to work on, which will really help with practice this week.”
Webb did most of the damage, tallying 124 yards rushing on 23 carries for Basalt. BHS rushed for a collective 272 yards. Gillis was 11 of 20 passing for 107 yards, plus 49 more yards rushing. Alvarado had five catches for 38 yards and the two scores.
Alvarado also tied with junior Wilson Maytham for the team lead with five solo tackles each. Beckman and sophomore Jamie Dolan each recorded a sack.
Steamboat fell to 0-2 overall and 0-2 in the 3A West league. The Sailors next play at Salida (0-2) on Friday.
Basalt (2-0) will host Rifle (2-0) on Saturday afternoon in the game of the spring in Class 3A. It will be preseason 1 vs. 2, in some order, and a rematch of last year’s Class 2A state quarterfinal game, won by Basalt in double overtime, 21-14.
The Bears do have a new coaching staff this season, but have so far looked just as formidable as usual with wins over Coal Ridge (49-0) and Aspen (56-14) to start play this spring.
“Super excited for the kids. I’m sure they are really excited for the game,” Frerichs said. “We are definitely going to need to have a great week of practice and work on some things we struggled with today. But so excited for the kids to have this opportunity. I really do think it’s going to be a battle out there.”
Aspen is 0-2 after losses to Glenwood Springs and Rifle. The Skiers host Montezuma-Cortez (1-1) on Friday night.
The festive season is upon us with lots of holiday events and activities on the calendar and a cheerful atmosphere with snowy slopes and twinkling lights all around town.