Football: Aspen honors Clettenberg, loses to Gunnison; Basalt rolls vs Eagle Valley |

Football: Aspen honors Clettenberg, loses to Gunnison; Basalt rolls vs Eagle Valley

The Aspen High School football team hosts Gunnison on Friday, Aug. 26, 2022, in the season opener.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Football season arrived with a heavy heart for Aspen High School on Friday night, a 45-0 loss to visiting Gunnison on the AHS turf. Prior to the start, the Skiers recognized Carson Clettenberg, who died Aug. 18, only days before the start of his senior year. He was a member of the AHS football team.

White t-shirts with the No. 2 — worn by Clettenberg — and western wear, a popular choice of his, was also the wardrobe of choice for the AHS faithful on Friday. Clettenberg was officially introduced before kickoff to loud cheers, and a moment of silence was also held in his name. The players ran onto the field holding one of those No. 2 t-shirts.

The game itself, the first with Eric McCready as the head coach, was completely controlled by Gunnison. The Cowboys scored midway through the first quarter and led 21-0 at halftime, in large part thanks to the play of Rocky Marchitelli and Justus Williams.

Any hopes of a second-half rally faded quickly, as after giving up a field goal right out of the break, the Skiers mishandled the ensuing kickoff and seconds later Gunnison scored again to make it 31-0.

Up 38-0 after three quarters, the Cowboys scored a touchdown with 9:05 to play in the game to reach the magic 40-point advantage that starts the running clock. AHS had its best chance to score late in the fourth quarter, but a fumble back to the Cowboys ended that hope.

Gunnison (1-0) is again playing in Class 1A this season and wasn’t getting much preseason attention despite a solid 7-3 campaign in 2021. They host Alamosa next week.

Aspen (0-1) will have time to regroup as the Skiers are off next week because of experiential education. They will next play Sept. 9 at Meeker before returning home to play Battle Mountain on Sept. 16.

The Skiers finished a mere 3-6 overall last fall and missed the postseason.

Basalt handles Eagle Valley in season opener

Over in Gypsum on Friday night, Basalt High School opened its football season with a 39-16 rout of host Eagle Valley.

It was complete dominance from the Longhorns early on. Senior Cooper Crawford was a handful, rushing for the first two touchdowns that gave BHS a 14-0 lead after a quarter. Senior Trevin Beckman ran one in himself in the second quarter before senior receiver Dylan Madden — who also had an interception later in the game — took an end-around 44 yards to the end zone. A 2-point conversion made it 29-0 Longhorns.

Madden’s score came with only 35 seconds to go until the break, but BHS wasn’t done scoring as another Eagle Valley turnover — it was a major issue for their offense in the first half — led to a late field goal by Basalt’s Will Keating to make it 32-0 at halftime.

The lead grew to 39-0 midway through the third quarter when quarterback Noah Johnston — starting in place of regular starter Kade Schneider — connected with Luke Rapaport from 20 yards out.

The Longhorns never got to the running clock, however, as Eagle Valley capitalized on some late-game miscues by BHS to put two touchdowns on the board, even getting both 2-point conversions.

Still, Eagle Valley (0-1), a Class 3A team, starts its season on the losing side of things and will play 2A powerhouse Delta next week. While still in the same classification, Delta (preseason No. 2 in 2A) is no longer in the same league as Aspen and Basalt this season.

Basalt (1-0), ranked No. 9 in 2A in the preseason poll, is off to another strong start under longtime coach Carl Frerichs. The Longhorns will next host Battle Mountain in a special Thursday night game this coming week. The Huskies lost 56-8 to Evergreen on Friday night in a battle between the 3A programs.

Elsewhere, Moffat County (preseason No. 10 in 2A) lost 36-6 to Resurrection Christian, preseason No. 10 in 3A.

Roaring Fork football, playing in 1A again this season, opens its season Sept. 2 at Coal Ridge.