Basalt football looks for another 4-0 start against Paonia; Aspen hosts Grand Valley
On paper it looked like the Basalt High School football team was going to be doing a lot of rebuilding this fall after losing another strong senior class. A month into the season and the reality is the Longhorns have mostly just reloaded en route to another 3-0 start.
“We did lose a lot of players. I think it was nine seniors on defense last year, but it’s mostly the mentality around Basalt football in general. Everyone is willing to step up,” BHS senior defensive end Lander McNamee said. “That’s mostly why I think we are doing well relative to last year, because everyone is willing to go as hard as they can to fill that position.”
Ranked No. 9 in Class 2A this week, Basalt hosts Class 1A Paonia (2-1) for homecoming at 7 p.m. Friday on the BHS field. The Eagles have wins over Monte Vista (17-14) and Coal Ridge (17-14), with the loss coming in the season opener to Centauri (33-0). Paonia was a 1A powerhouse not that long ago, winning state titles in both 2013 and 2014.
When the teams met a year ago in Paonia, Basalt won 16-0.
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“We are feeling good,” McNamee said. “Paonia has definitely got some big, corn-fed players, but we’ll see how we can take it to them. We will do our best. It’s definitely going to be an intense game because it’s homecoming and they are trying to bring it to us.”
Basalt is looking for its second 4-0 start in as many seasons. The Longhorns actually got to 7-0 last fall before a 35-14 loss at eventual league champion Rifle. So far this season BHS has beaten Olathe (29-7), Battle Mountain (28-0) and Pagosa Springs (39-19). The Paonia game will be their final outside the 2A Western Slope League, with Moffat County set to visit Basalt next week in their WSL opener.
Before then, the Eagles will look to play spoiler for Basalt’s homecoming game.
“Homecoming is pretty much a representation for the entire school and family, because everyone comes to homecoming,” McNamee said. “It’s a chance for us to show what we’ve done and how far we’ve come as athletes and individuals. It’s really kind of our time to shine because everyone is there.”
It’s homecoming for Aspen High School as well, with the Skiers set to host Grand Valley at 7 p.m. Friday on the AHS turf. Aspen (1-2) got its first win of the season last week, beating host Cedaredge, 26-6. AHS lost to Bayfield (37-20) and Meeker (42-20) in its first two games.
The Skiers have had to overcome a lot of key early-season injuries so far, but did see junior quarterback Tyler Ward return in last week’s win. He sat out the Meeker game after getting hurt against Bayfield.
Class 1A Grand Valley (1-2) has losses to Rifle (47-7) — the top-ranked team in Class 2A — and Kent Denver (26-0), another strong 2A team, so they are battle tested. The win came via a forfeit last week against Lake County.
Aspen also played Grand Valley last season, winning 54-16 in Parachute. The Skiers kickoff WSL play next week when current No. 2 Delta comes to Aspen.
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