Basalt football puts Bears into hibernation, rolls 38-7 in critical 1 vs. 2 showdown

Basalt High School's Gavin Webb runs against Rifle on Saturday, April 3, 2021, on the BHS field. The Longhorns won, 38-7. Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times.

There was nothing cute nor surprising about either squad’s game plan. And in that situation, when X’s and O’s probably won’t win the game, it mostly comes down to who wants it more and on Saturday that was the Basalt High School football team.

Hosting No. 2 Rifle, the top-ranked Longhorns put a surprising 38-7 shellacking on the Bears in the Class 3A West showdown, a game that is likely to have significant implications on the fast-approaching postseason.

“I felt like our kids did their jobs, and they did it exceptionally well,” Basalt coach Carl Frerichs said. “Really, it’s hats off to the kids. They are the ones flying around. When it’s smash-mouth football, you can line up in whatever you want, but really it comes down to the will of the kid and I felt our kids’ will was amazing.”

Basalt High School quarterback Matty Gillis throws against Rifle on Saturday, April 3, 2021, on the BHS field. The Longhorns won, 38-7. Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times.

Saturday’s game was certainly built up as maybe the best game of the regular season in Class 3A’s one-off spring season, as it featured the preseason top two teams and two of the favorites to likely come out on top of the 16-team classification. The last time the teams played — way back on Nov. 16, 2019 — Basalt dramatically beat Rifle 21-14 in double overtime to advance to the 2A state semifinals.

The long awaited rematch was hardly a thriller, with BHS taking a 24-0 lead into the halftime break in a game the Bears never seemed a part of.

“So proud of these kids’ discipline. During the week of practice, they are so dialed in,” Frerichs said. “Against those upper-echelon teams, it all comes down to discipline.”

Rifle quarterback Gavin Peterson runs with the ball against Basalt on Saturday, April 3, 2021, on the BHS field. The Longhorns won, 38-7. Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times.

Rifle — led by first-year head coach Todd Casebier, one of the state’s more experienced and successful coaches over multiple past stops — was uncharacteristically sloppy from the start. A muffed punt in the early minutes led to a Basalt field goal and a 3-0 score after a quarter.

The game remained relatively slow late into the second quarter before the wheels came off for Rifle right before halftime. Gavin Webb — starting at running back in place of the injured Cole Dombrowski — broke loose on a 20-yard touchdown run to make it 10-0 Basalt with 3:36 to go until the break.

Moments later, Basalt’s Rulbe Alvarado got the first of his two interceptions, leading to a 25-yard TD run by Webb for a 17-0 lead. Before Rifle could get to the locker room — which in this COVID season is just their end of the end zone — BHS quarterback Matty Gillis connected with Sam Sherry on a 19-yard TD pass and catch with only seconds remaining in the quarter and the rout was on.

Hoping to start the second half with a splash, Rifle instead came out flat. A quick punt by the Bears led to a short TD run by Gillis, which was set up by a 60-yard Webb run. Basalt tacked on its final score with about nine minutes to play, a short TD run by Trevin Beckman.

Rifle’s only points came on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Gavin Peterson to Embrey Marantino with nine second remaining in the game.

“You start looking toward the playoffs and all those things, it makes a huge difference,” Frerichs said of the win. “Especially with us being on the Western Slope, if we can’t get that home-field advantage, it makes a huge difference and we want to be home.”

The rout over Rifle should firmly entrench Basalt into that No. 1 spot and keep it as the 3A frontrunner. With only a six-game regular season this spring, teams are officially halfway through their seasons after this week.

The Bears dropped to 2-1 and into solo third place in the eight-team 3A West. All five teams below Rifle have at least two losses through three games.

The top two spots are held by Basalt and Glenwood Springs, both 3-0, who will play each other this coming Friday night in Basalt. Frerichs swung by to watch Glenwood and coach Pat Engle roll over Coal Ridge on Friday, a 42-12 win for the Demons.

“Pat has those guys flying around. They look great. They look physical,” Frerichs said. “A lot of the spring football it seems everyone is lining up and running right at you, so it’s not a lot of forward passing. We tell the kids all the time, it’s your will to get to the ball. I think that will be the key on Friday night as well.”


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