Longhorn football looks to remain on top in WSL; open season Aug. 31 vs Olathe | AspenTimes.com

Longhorn football looks to remain on top in WSL; open season Aug. 31 vs Olathe

Mike Vidakovich
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

The theme for the Basalt High School football team this season could very well be "We Are Family" as 12 seniors, most of whom have played together since they were in third grade, will return with the intention of keeping the purple and gold at or near the top of the highly competitive 2A Western Slope League.

Posting the most wins in school history in 2017, and returning to the state playoffs for the second season in a row, coach Carl Frerichs will need every one of his seasoned veterans to have a banner season if the Longhorns are to make a third consecutive run to the state playoffs.

"We have several seniors who have been four-year starters for us," said Frerichs, who is in his 11th season at the helm in Basalt. "They have played a lot of football with each other and they seem to know how to come together to achieve success."

Tai Kim, who will line up at tight end and play on the offensive line for the Longhorns, is one of those dozen seniors who echoes the sentiments of his coach.

"A huge part of our success is just the family atmosphere we have created as a team," said Kim, who will embark on his third varsity season in 2018. "It's like a brotherhood, and it's a great environment to be in."

For certain, the Longhorns are a close-knit group, but there is talent aplenty to go along with the camaraderie. Frerichs gushes when he talks about senior twins Trevor and Jake Reuss. Throw wide receiver Zach Pagan into the mix of this senior trio, and you have three leaders who Frerichs hopes can put the Longhorns on their shoulders when times get tough.

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"The Reuss boys are as good as it gets in high school football and Zach Pagan will be right in there with them to provide guidance," Frerichs said.

Jake Reuss will help to anchor an offensive line that was hit hard by graduation, and Trevor, who will start at quarterback for the second season in a row, will look to lead a balanced Longhorn offensive attack on the ground and through the air.

"Our biggest losses from last season came on the offensive line, but we have some guys who spent a lot of time in the weight room this summer and are ready to step up and play," Trevor Reuss said. "Our receivers will be led by Zach (Pagan) and they show a lot of promise. We all have faith in our running game with Jake Reardon. He's super-shifty, quick and very talented."

Moving the ball against WSL opponents should be a calling card for the Longhorns, but as well as flickering the lights on the scoreboard, look for Basalt to be stingy on the defensive side of the ball, also.

Senior defensive end Goskany Luquin will be one of eight returning starters on defense for Frerichs. Luquin, who will also provide depth on the offensive line when the Longhorns have the football, said if his group just listens to the coaches and follows their assignments, there should be no task too big to handle.

"The coaches have been telling us that as long as we execute the fundamentals and do our jobs, we will be OK. This group has good chemistry and we're all willing to do what it takes to help out," Luquin said.

With the departure of Roaring Fork and Steamboat Springs from the 2A WSL comes the entry of the Delta Panthers and Rifle Bears. Both teams will present a major threat to the Basalt supremacy in the league, but facing those two powers is not what Frerichs is focusing on at the present time.

"We're just getting ready to play Olathe (Aug. 31 opener in Basalt) right now," Frerichs said. "A positive for us is that we have played Delta and Rifle the last two years in non-conference games, so we have an idea of what to expect."

A tough preseason slate will no doubt help to sharpen the Longhorns' mettle as Olathe, Pagosa Springs, Battle Mountain and Paonia will provide some stiff competition in September.

"With the state going to the RPI strength of schedule points the last few years, it's important who you play in the non-league part of your schedule," said Frerichs. "These teams we are playing will get us ready for the league and make us better."

2018 shapes up to be another promising season in Basalt. With the addition of the Rifle Bears to the 2A WSL docket though, it may take a few favorable bounces of the ball for the Longhorns to repeat as league champions. Regardless of where they finish in the conference pecking order, it would be unwise to bet against Basalt making a third straight trip to the 2A state playoffs in November.

sports@postindependent.com