Basalt-Glenwood football rivalry returns after spring’s one-off league showdown |

Basalt-Glenwood football rivalry returns after spring’s one-off league showdown

Glenwood’s Blake Nieslanik runs during their game against Basalt on April 9, 2021, on the BHS field.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

The teams aren’t vying to one up the other in the rankings or looking to get a leg up in the league standings this fall, but that will hardly make the stakes any less meaningful for Basalt and Glenwood Springs high schools when they meet on the football field Friday night.

Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Glenwood.

“We are very excited to play Basalt,” Demons’ coach Pat Engle said Thursday. “A ton of respect for their program. Their head football coach is a fantastic football coach and probably even a better human being. He coaches his kids well. Their kids play really hard. I’m sure we’ll just pick up right where we left off from the spring.”

It’s a rematch from the one-off pandemic spring season, when the teams both played in a 16-team Class 3A and were, at least for that season, league foes. That game was the first between the schools, which are only separated by about 20 miles, since the Demons won 33-7 in a non-league game in 2011.

The spring’s game in Basalt was won 21-14 by Glenwood Springs on a touchdown run in the final seconds. It was one of the biggest games of the regular season in the one-off 3A classification, as Basalt entered that game No. 1 in the state with Glenwood coming in at No. 3.

Rifle eventually went on to win the spring’s 3A state title, knocking off the Demons in the playoffs after losing to the Longhorns in the regular season.

“We know it’s their homecoming, we know it’s going to be a special atmosphere. And that’s all I want for my kids, is to get down there and have a lot of fun and get to play in a special atmosphere,” Basalt coach Carl Frerichs said Wednesday of this week’s rematch with the Demons. “We don’t feel like we coached very well or played very well last year, so we’ve been working on a lot of things this week at practice because when we watched the film from last year, we are not happy with the way we coached or played.”

Both teams are off to strong starts this fall. Glenwood is 3-0 and ranked No. 7 in Class 3A this week, with wins over Harrison (41-14), Rifle (14-6) and Conifer (35-27). Sophomore Joaquin Sandoval is back under center for the Demons, completing about 60% of his passes for 378 yards with two touchdowns and a lone interception. The team relies heavily on the run, with either Ray Rosenmerkel or Blake Nieslanik having topped 100 yards rushing in each game.

“We’ve got great senior leadership. Those kids, they learned a lot from the kids who graduated. They learned how to lead a group,” Engle said of his team’s 3-0 start. “They know what the standard is and they hold our kids to that standard. That’s the first thing. Secondly, our assistant coaches are putting in a ton of time just trying to help the kids be as good as they can be. And third, we are just trying to be on one heartbeat. I don’t really care who gets the credit. We all have to do our job and by doing that it just makes the team that much better.”

Basalt High School wide receiver Rulbe Alvarado avoids a tackle by Glenwood Springs’ Stephen Morris during the first half of the spring homecoming game on Friday, April 9, 2021.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

Engle expects more of the same out of Basalt, which is a heavy dose of running behind BHS junior Cooper Crawford and a handful of shots from BHS junior quarterback Kade Schneider. The Longhorns, playing back in their traditional Class 2A this fall, are ranked No. 4 in the state and have tallied wins over Woodland Park (35-6), Battle Mountain (40-34 in 2OT) and Faith Christian (37-0).

Basalt’s defense showed a lot of improvement between the overtime win over the Huskies — one of Glenwood’s league foes — and a shutout of a proud Faith Christian program last week. Offensively, BHS has avoided major mistakes and continues to put up points.

“Last year we came out with the loss, but it just gives us more motivation for us this year to come back and play harder,” Basalt senior receiver and linebacker Sam Sherry said Wednesday of the Glenwood game. “I definitely think we should have won that game. We came out with the wrong mentality and we just came out slow and made a lot of mistakes early, which let them stay in the game longer than they should have, which let them win. I think they were just more aggressive last year, but this year we are going to come out better than we have.”

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