Football: Basalt to take on reigning state champions | AspenTimes.com

Football: Basalt to take on reigning state champions

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Jim Ryan/Special to The Aspen TimesLonghorns quarterback Scotty Hoffman scrambles and looks to make a play during Oct. 29's game against Coal Ridge in Basalt.

ARVADA, Colo. – Basalt head coach Carl Frerichs made the trip to Olathe in 2008 to watch the Pirates knock off Faith Christian in postseason football action.

He was in Aspen last November when the Skiers came within a touchdown of upsetting the unbeaten and eventual state-champion Eagles.

Frerichs has seen 2A Western Slope squads acquit themselves quite well against one of state’s perennial powers. He hopes his squad can follow suit Saturday, when the 12th-seeded Longhorns travel to Arvada to square off with No. 5 Faith Christian in first-round playoff action.

Basalt will be making its first postseason appearance in 27 years.

“We’re extremely excited for the opportunity,” Frerichs said Wednesday. “At the same time, we don’t want to be happy just to be here. We’ve worked so hard and we’re going down there to compete and not just be thrilled to be in.”

The Longhorns secured their spot in the 16-team field with an impressive late-season surge. They rebounded from Oct. 8’s loss to Aspen with four straight victories to finish the regular season with a 7-3 mark, good for third place in a balanced league. Included in that stretch were two shutouts – a 38-0 win over Grand Valley and a 29-0 rout of Coal Ridge – and an impressive 37-12 victory in Cedaredge.

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Basalt’s losses have come to Top 10 teams in both 2A (Aspen, Olathe) and 3A (Glenwood Springs). That is something that gives Frerichs confidence as he prepares for the high-powered Eagles, who have won six straight since opening the season 2-2.

Heading into this season, Faith Christian had lost just four times since 2003 – all in the playoffs.

“Seeing them in person against Aspen [last year] and knowing how much better we played Aspen this year when they had Nicky [Ufkes] … we think we can play against these guys,” Frerichs said.

“We’ve been telling the kids that this is still high school football, and they are no different than us. It’s just another game. … We can compete if we believe.”

Faith Christian is a formidable opponent. The Eagles, winners of the Flatirons conference, are 5-0 at home, have logged three shutouts and are averaging 38 points per game. The high-powered Eagles scored 55 or more in three of their last four games – including a 68-point outburst in Oct. 15’s rout of Mead.

Quarterback Alex Buchmann, who took over for standout Micah Twedell this fall, has completed nearly 54 percent of his pass attempts, throwing for 1,483 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Oran Tool has led the Eagles’ ground attack, rushing 100 times for 1,151 yards and 13 touchdowns. Fellow backfield mates Bryan Albright and Issac Henry each rushed for more than 300 yards and combined for 11 scores.

“They’re really not a huge team, not bigger than us … but their kids execute unbelievably well. They look good on film,” Frerichs said. “They’re [offensive] line concerns me a lot more than their skill. Just how well and fast they get off the ball. We don’t see many teams execute like that.

“We’re a better team athletically and talent-wise [than we have been in years past]. … We think we match up just fine.”

If they are to keep pace, the Longhorns will rely heavily on quarterback Scotty Hoffman, who has thrown for nearly 900 yards, and on standout tailback Zach Mobilian.

Because tailback Erick Enriquez is not expected to play because of injury, Frerichs said sophomore fullback Johnny Madrano will shoulder some of the offensive workload.

“I honestly believe that to compete we have to execute our plays. … We’re not going in there planning to run tricks plays, we’re going in to play Basalt football,” the coach added. “By week 13 or 14 we’re not doing anything different, and they’re not either. Turnovers and big plays define games like this. If we have those go in our favor, I really think we do have a real chance.”

Aspen head coach Mike Sirko agrees.

“The one good thing for Basalt is that [Faith Christian] hasn’t been as strong as they’ve been in the past, when they were 10-0 and ranked No. 1 in state,” the coach said. “They’re still capable. They’re good every year. But I think Basalt might have a decent shot if their kids are playing hard.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com