Aspen fumbles, stumbles in opener |

Aspen fumbles, stumbles in opener

Tim Mutrie
Aspen Times Staff Writer

APSEN/NORWOOD, Aspen High School's Jonathan King trips up a Norwood Maverick during Saturday afternoon's game at Aspen High. The final was 30-14, Norwood. Daniel Bayer photo.

If fumbles and turnovers are a factor of nerves, the Aspen High School football team was plenty nervous Saturday.

In Aspen’s first return to the varsity ranks since dwindling numbers ended the program in 1994, Aspen coughed up the ball early and often in a 30-14 loss to Norwood at the school district field.

“We set them up to succeed, we set ourselves up to lose,” coach Tom Goode said Sunday after poring over the game film twice already.

Aspen fumbled on their first possession, setting up Norwood’s first touchdown and the scenario for much of the afternoon.

“Our boys were intimidated in the beginning and I think that’s what happened: those first varsity game jitters didn’t shake out until it was too late,” Goode said.

Aspen clawed back to 7-7 late in the first quarter on a fake punt, a 45-yard touchdown pass from Trevor Clapper to Dusty Stutsman. Norwood responded by marching down the field for a touchdown to open the second quarter, but once again Aspen managed an unorthodox answer, this time an interception.

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Hunter Barr picked off a Norwood pass, then rambled some 35 yards to the end zone to bring Aspen even with Norwood, at 14-14, just before the half (along with Trevor Clapper’s two extra points).

“Then the third period was a disaster,” Goode said, one that saw three Aspen turnovers, including two fumbles on kickoff returns.

Norwood capitalized with 16 unanswered points in the third period alone, before both teams played to a scoreless stalemate in the fourth.

Dusty Stutsman, Aspen’s tailback, managed 50 to 65 yards, Goode estimated, while sophomore quarterback Pat Fauer was 4 for 8 passing, with a couple completions to tight end Colin Gibson and one interception in his starting debut.

“Their defense was all over the ball, our offensive line was stifled and our offense never got on line,” Goode said. “But we weren’t run over and the guys didn’t quit. We had too many turnovers and that was the difference.

“Pat learned a lot, being in there for his first varsity game, and he stepped up and did a good job.”

On Saturday, Sept. 7, at 1 p.m. Aspen hosts Grand Valley, the second of smaller, Class 1A opponents, before opening its Class 2A Western Slope League schedule vs. Basalt on Sept. 13.

“We’re going to learn from every game,” Goode said. “The kids aren’t going to be as overwhelmed as they were against Norwood. They were thrown into the lion pit there and they made their mistakes, but that’s part of process. That Norwood team is clearly the best team we’ve seen yet.”

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