Basalt to host, Aspen gets in as football playoff brackets announced by CHSAA
The one-off Class 3A spring football season began with 16 teams and is officially down to only eight, with both Basalt and Aspen high schools making the cut into the playoff brackets announced Sunday by the Colorado High School Activities Association.
Basalt landed the No. 3 overall seed and will host No. 6 Sand Creek in the first round. The game will be played at 1 p.m. Saturday in Basalt.
Aspen snuck in as the No. 7 seed and will play at No. 2 The Classical Academy in the first round. That game also will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, played in Colorado Springs.
Here’s a first look at both matchups:
No. 3 Basalt (5-1) vs. No. 6 Sand Creek (5-1)
Basalt is in the playoffs for the fifth straight season, while Sand Creek is looking at its first winning season since 2013 and first postseason appearance in much longer.
“Super excited for the kids. A lot of hard work is paying off for these guys from the weight room to practice, everything these kids have been doing for the last 18 months,” Basalt coach Carl Frerichs said late Sunday. “Excited they get to have a playoff game at home. It’s going to be a good matchup with Sand Creek. They are definitely a talented team. But anytime there are only eight teams in the playoff bracket, I think no matter who you are playing right now you better be ready to play or you are not going to have the outcome you want.”
The Scorpions are far from a football superpower. The team has rarely recorded more than two wins in a season the past two decades and even had a 26-game losing streak beginning midway through the 2017 season and through the end of the 2019 campaign. That streak ended with a 12-7 win over Faith Christian to open this season, the start of a breakthrough 5-1 spring for the Scorpions.
Sand Creek, located on the eastern edge of Colorado Springs, traditionally plays in Class 3A, a level higher than Basalt.
“I started watching them about a week and a half ago on NFHS because I was kind of lining things up, guessing who we were going to play,” Frerichs said. “So been watching them for a little bit and definitely breaking them down. Another spread team, so getting to play three spread teams in a row is a little bit helpful for our kids.”
Basalt closed out its regular season with wins over Aspen (51-8) and Montezuma-Cortez (38-12). Saturday night’s win over the Panthers in Grand Junction wasn’t flawless, but should give the Longhorns plenty of momentum to carry into the playoffs.
“I thought the second quarter we played really, really well,” Frerichs said. “We gave up some big plays defensively, but most of the game I thought the kids battled and flew around.”
No. 7 Aspen (3-3) at No. 2 TCA (4-0)
Aspen made the playoffs in both 2017 and 2018 but a 4-5 campaign in 2019 left them just on the outside looking in. Back in the postseason this spring, the Skiers will face The Classical Academy, which beat AHS in the first round of those 2017 playoffs in Colorado Springs, 36-24.
“Very pleased with the kids, especially with the adversity they had to overcome,” AHS coach Travis Benson said Sunday of returning to the postseason. “A lot of new kids to start and younger kids to fill in younger kids’ shoes throughout the year and they definitely faced adversity and played hard and battled their way through a spring season.”
TCA is only 4-0 this spring, having played two fewer games than the allowed six. They haven’t been touched in those four games, however, rolling over Northfield (42-0), Littleton (62-7), The Academy (41-12) and Kent Denver (49-0). Northfield is in the postseason as the No. 8 seed and will play at No. 1 Glenwood Springs in the first round, while The Academy is the No. 5 seed and plays at No. 4 Rifle in the first round.
The Titans should be a familiar name to Basalt, as the Longhorns beat TCA in the first round of the 2019 playoffs, 13-7, en route to the Class 2A state semifinals.
“They are a quality football team. They are well coached. What they do, they do very effectively,” Benson said of TCA, which last played April 16. “They’ve definitely had two weeks of prep time, so they’ve probably broken down film on all three of us that could have been playing them. It was a hard-fought battle when we saw them last time.”
Aspen’s playoffs effectively started Friday night at Coal Ridge, a 20-13 win over the Titans in New Castle. Considering their RPI entering that game, the winner was almost guaranteed a playoff spot and the loser was going to get left out, which is exactly how it played out. Coal Ridge, also 3-3, did not make the playoffs.
“It was make or break. Going into that game, that’s exactly what we told the kids. The winner is in, the loser is most likely out,” Benson said. “It was impressive to see people step up to a challenge.”
No. 1 Glenwood Springs (6-0) vs. No. 8 Northfield (3-3)
No. 4 Rifle (4-2) vs. No. 5 The Academy (5-1)
No. 3 Basalt (5-1) vs. No. 6 Sand Creek (5-1)
No. 2 The Classical Academy (4-0) vs. No. 7 Aspen (3-3)