Basalt football handles shorthanded Aspen, remains among league’s best

Basalt High School running back Gavin Webb runs to the end zone as Aspen’s Bodie Grogan pursues him during the game on Friday, April 16, 2021, on the AHS turf. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Led by junior Gavin Webb and a dominant rushing attack, the Basalt High School football team found little issue on Friday night in a 51-8 rout of shorthanded Aspen on the AHS turf.

Webb rushed for 250 yards and four touchdowns, while BHS senior quarterback Matty Gillis had 69 yards rushing and three of his own scores to get the Longhorns back on track after last week’s loss to Glenwood Springs that knocked them from the No. 1 spot in Class 3A.

“I was really proud of the kids tonight,” BHS coach Carl Frerichs said. “We bounced back really well and I felt like on the offensive and defensive lines, which we feel like we did not have our best games last week, I think we really showed a big improvement tonight.”

Aspen came into the contest winners of two straight, but numerous injuries forced them to dig deep into their already thin bench against Basalt and simply couldn’t keep up. A lone 10-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Nate Thomas to senior Cole Kennedy with mere seconds to play in the first half proved to be the only points AHS would score in the game.

Basalt jumped all over Aspen from the start. Webb and Gillis both broke free for 50-plus-yard TD runs, Carlos Palomares kicked a field goal and Webb scored his second from 16 yards out to give BHS a 24-0 lead after the first quarter.

The Longhorns led 31-8 at halftime, an 8-yard TD run by Gillis early in the second quarter making it a 31-point advantage until the Thomas-Kennedy connection in the final seconds.

“They are good,” Aspen coach Travis Benson said of Basalt. “I just wish we had a full team and didn’t lose so many of our good kids to injuries over the last two weeks, three weeks.”

Webb scored his third touchdown from about 2 yards out later in the third quarter to make it 37-8 after a missed extra point.

The fourth quarter was highlighted by a short delay after the field lights went off due to an automated timing issue, with Webb and Gillis each tacking one more TD run after the lights were turned back on.

“We played tough,” Benson said. “We made our own small mistakes, as young kids do early on. What I can say is I’m proud of our seniors who fought until the end. I’m proud of our kids’ class and character.”

Aspen dropped to 2-3 overall with only a trip to Coal Ridge on Friday remaining on their spring schedule. AHS entered the Basalt game with the No. 7 RPI in the state, while the Titans had been No. 9, with that ranking largely determining who will make the eight-team playoff bracket. Coal Ridge (3-2) beat Steamboat Springs on Friday, 12-7.

Basalt (4-1), which had an RPI of 5 entering Friday’s game, will close out its regular season next Saturday night against Montezuma-Cortez in Grand Junction.

With Glenwood Springs (5-0) beating Rifle on Friday night, 22-15, the Demons effectively locked up the Class 3A West League title and a likely home playoff game.

BHS and Rifle are hoping to snag one of the other top-four seeds to be one of the other home teams for the first round. Basalt holds that head-to-head tiebreaker after its 38-7 rout of the Bears on April 3.


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