Longhorn football in ‘uncharted territory’ with Broncos coming to town on Nov. 10 | AspenTimes.com

Longhorn football in ‘uncharted territory’ with Broncos coming to town on Nov. 10

The Longhorns have been to the second round of the Class 2A state playoffs once before — last season, in fact — but this year feels a lot different.

Instead of a long drive to No. 3 seed Bayfield, which would go on to win the state championship, the Basalt High School football team gets to hang out at home and await a lower seed's arrival.

"It feels like uncharted territory, even though we were here last year, just because we get a home game," BHS senior linebacker Tai Kim said. "But we know that it's going to be a legit game. Platte Valley is a really good team and we are just trying to be ready for them."

Saturday at 1 p.m., No. 3 seed Basalt will host No. 6 seed Platte Valley (which comes from Kersey, east of Greeley) in the 2A quarterfinals in what is guaranteed to be the final home game of the season for BHS. The Longhorns have never been to the 2A semifinals in program history, while the Broncos have twice won the 2A state championship, once in 2007 and again in 2013.

"They have an outstanding program. You can just tell by the facilities when I went down there, to all the stuff they put into football. They take their football serious," said BHS coach Carl Frerichs, who watched Platte Valley lose 28-20 to Bayfield in the 2015 state title game.

"They've put up a lot of points this year and no one has controlled that offense too well, so we are going to have our hands full."

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Saturday’s game has the making of a possible shootout, despite Basalt's defensive dominance this season. While Platte Valley only has the 28th most difficult schedule in 2A, according to CHSAANow.com, it's made the most of it getting to a perfect 10-0. They have a pair of wins over 2A playoff teams, each of which lost in the first round last week.

Basalt, which is 9-1 overall — its lone loss coming Oct. 19 at Rifle, 35-14 — will be tasked with slowing a Bronco offense that averages 36.3 points per game. Platte Valley dropped 45 points on Delta last week in the first round, rolling to a 24-point win against one of Basalt's Western Slope League foes.

"They are a good football team, but we just have to do what Basalt does best, which is shutting out teams and playing our own game," Basalt junior lineman Ernesto Lopez said. "I feel like I have a real big responsibility on my hands, for sure. My main goal is to stop that quarterback, but it isn't all about me."

Lopez was key to shutting down the D'Evelyn offense last week in Basalt's 26-14 first-round playoff win. He spent a lot of time in the Jaguar backfield and might have to do the same against Platte Valley.

Broncos quarterback Trevon Wehrman will provide a challenge the Longhorns haven't faced this season, as he can run as well as pass. Wehrman has thrown for 1,261 yards with 17 touchdowns and only three interceptions this season, including a 231-yard, five-touchdown performance against Delta last week.

He's also rushed for 844 yards and 10 more touchdowns, his worst performance this season being a measly 72 yards and three touchdowns in a 50-0 win over Fort Lupton on Oct. 5.

Platte Valley senior running back Ernesto Rios also is a handful, having rushed for a team-high 1,012 yards with nine touchdowns. He ran for 148 yards last week against Delta, a defense that held Basalt to 13 points in a loss earlier this season.

"Most years when you go up against the spread in high school, it usually is a dual-threat. This has been one of those odd years where really D'Evelyn and Aspen's were really pocket passers," Frerichs said of opposing quarterbacks this season. "This is probably our first true dual-threat who is probably a runner more than he is a passer."

Basalt's defense is certainly no slouch. BHS allows only 7.4 points per game and has five shutouts. It hasn't given up more than 14 points in any game this fall. However, Frerichs admits his offense might have to be especially good to keep pace against Platte Valley.

The Longhorns average a modest 26.9 points per game and will face a Bronco defense that allows only 11.9 points per game. Basalt's offense is all about senior running back Jake Reardon, who is second in 2A with 1,460 yards and 15 touchdowns rushing this season. Rifle's Tanner Vines leads that list.

"Our offense has really been explosive all year," Frerichs said. "We've had some turnovers in games, but it's not like we haven't been moving the ball. We really think for us to have a shot in this game, our offense is definitely going to have to play hard and put up some points."

The Basalt-Platte Valley winner will face either No. 2 seed Resurrection Christian or No. 7 seed Rifle in the semifinals. Because of the Colorado High School Activities Association's rule that tries to keep teams from playing back-to-back road games in the playoffs, should Basalt win it would be on the road next week no matter the opponent.

Saturday’s other 2A playoff games include No. 1 Bayfield at No. 9 Faith Christian and No. 4 La Junta hosting No. 5 Salida. All four quarterfinal games are scheduled to kickoff at 1 p.m.

"It's going to be exciting. It's also going to be pretty sad. It's the last game we will ever play on the Basalt field," Kim said. "Me and my other seniors, it's crazy to have taken the program from kind of average to being great. It's nice to know that you did that."

acolbert@aspentimes.com

GAME DAY

What: No. 3 Basalt football vs. No. 6 Platte Valley

When: 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, in Basalt

Cost: $8 for adults, $5 for seniors/students; athletic passes not accepted

Food: Glenwood Springs Ford will host a tailgate beginning at noon. Proceeds benefit the BHS athletic department. Regular concessions will be available during the game.

Listen: Jim Williams will call the game at KSPN 103.1 FM and through http://www.basalthighstreaming.com.

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