Skiers smack Norwood |

Skiers smack Norwood

Nate Peterson

Mark Fox/The Aspen Times Norwood quarterback Jesse Efurd is introduced to the Aspen High defense in first-half action Saturday at the high school. The skiers won their opener, 38-0.

The new-look Aspen Skiers offense went for its first test drive against 1A Norwood Saturday and the results weren’t pretty. For the visiting Mavericks, that is. The Skiers, behind 200 bruising yards and three touchdowns from senior tailback Jackson Davis, unloaded on Norwood for 38 points in 48 minutes in new head coach Travis Benson’s debut. The defense, meanwhile, led by a relentless front four, pitched a shutout. “This is a first,” Davis said. “Our defense and our offense and our special teams all did their jobs today. It feels awesome to win the first game.”The Skiers took the Mavericks by the throat from outset, running up a 28-0 lead before halftime. Davis’ best run of the day – a beautiful 86 yard scamper off a quick counter play with 18 seconds remaining in the third quarter – was the final hurrah for the first-team offense and defense. Reserves finished out the fourth quarter, with the second-team offense driving all the way to the Norwood 15-yard line to set up a 28-yard Whit Fuller field goal for the final tally of 38 points.

Fuller’s kick was the bookend to his first-quarter touchdown run, which gave the Skiers their first seven points. The junior quarterback struggled in the passing game, throwing two interceptions on just four attempts, but managed the offense well from under center. And, with a stable of Skiers backs running wild through the Mavericks’ defense, there wasn’t much reason to pass anymore after Fuller threw his second pick midway through the second quarter.”The passing game was a little bit rough,” Benson said. “We’ll go back to work on it. We’ve been doing a lot of 7-on-7 throughout the year. We’ll go back to work on it and keep getting better. If we can run the ball, however, I’ll run it. I mean that flat out.”To go with Fuller’s picks, the Skiers also had a number of to-be-expected first-game mistakes. A roughing the passer penalty negated a Jyace Stutsman interception and a personal-foul negated a Tucker Eason touchdown run. Reserve quarterback Harry Maniloff also turned over the ball on a fumbled exchange and Stutsman was stripped of the opening second-half kickoff, giving the Mavericks offense starting field position at the Aspen 12-yard line.The mistakes were largely overshadowed by the good things the Skiers did, including the dominant defensive performance turned in by the defense. The biggest defensive series of the game came after Stutsman’s fumble on the kickoff. Aspen’s front four, led by mammoth 6-foot-4, 260-pound junior defensive tackle David Clark, pushed the Mavericks backward. Norwood junior tailback Andy Jenson was swarmed by a gang of tacklers, including Clark, sophomore Cory Parker and junior Ben Baker on a first-down run, then again on second-and 10.

On third down, Norwood sophomore quarterback Jesse Efurd scrambled for a few yards. Then on fourth down and 13, Efurd threw complete to senior wideout Mark Nay, who was wrapped up five yards too short of the first-down marker. The defense also turned in seven points of its own in the second quarter when Eason broke on a Efurd pass and picked it off for a 15-yard touchdown return. Junior Kody Hornburg added another Skiers pick during garbage time in the fourth quarter.”We went out and took care of business,” Benson said. “We have some things to work on, some penalties we need to correct, but the boys did a phenomenal job in all three phases of the game.”While Jackson was the offensive MVP, outdoing his two first-half touchdowns, which included a sweet 42-yard scoring run down the right sideline, with the 86-yard touchdown, other backfield mates also turned in big numbers.

Eason had 58 yards and sophomore fullback Adam Huber had 55 yards. Fuller also finished with 41 yards of rushing. “The boys are expecting excellence this year,” Benson said. “As much work as we’ve put in, they expect this. We’ve got to go back to work, but the boys can enjoy this one.”The Skiers next play Saturday, Sept. 17, at home against Summit.Nate Peterson can be reached at npeterson@aspentimes.comDue to an early deadline, scores from other Aspen and Basalt games were not able to make it into today’s sports section. Check back in Monday’s paper for complete coverage.

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