Sluggish start dooms Skiers in Gunnison | AspenTimes.com

Sluggish start dooms Skiers in Gunnison

Jon Maletz

When the Aspen football team comes to play for four quarters, it can compete with anybody. Recently, however, coach Travis Benson’s team has been taking the first half off.A week after a disappointing home loss to Summit in which Aspen surrendered six turnovers in a 35-14 home loss, the Skiers traveled more than five hours to Gunnison and found little success. Any hopes of spoiling the Cowboys’ homecoming were quickly erased as Aspen (1-2) found itself in a 21-0 hole after one quarter of play, and lost 28-0.”We came out pretty stale in the first half,” Benson said. “We honestly played pretty well after that, but we couldn’t get anything generated on offense. They just had three big plays.”After stalling on their first possession, the Cowboys pulled ahead on three straight scoring drives capped by big passing plays. Two of Gunnison’s first quarter scores came on identical fade routs to the right corner of the end zone. Both plays were more than 30 yards.The Cowboys (2-3) used their depth to wear down the Skiers, many of whom were playing on both sides of the ball.Gunnison pushed across its final touchdown in the fourth when a Cowboys receiver again beat the Skiers’ defense on a drag rout deep in the middle of the field. Although they struggled to generate any offensive productivity throughout, it was after the first that the Skiers defense finally woke up. Aspen shut down Gunnison’s running attack and, with the help of multiple Cowboys penalties, routinely forced the opposition into third and longs throughout much of the second half.The Skiers put themselves in a position to pull close, but could muster no charge on offense. Aspen was able to maintain possession and minimize the turnovers that haunted them one week earlier, but was held to fewer than 150 total yards on the day.”The problem is we’re a good football team over a two-quarter stretch, and today we picked the second half,” Benson said. “Their defense matched up with us very well. We had a bit of a gut check after the first, but we’re gonna have to work on changing the pregame warm-up routine so we can get these guys ready to go.”The Skiers were on the bus for Gunnison at 5 a.m., and had to play a team that was more amped than usual for its homecoming, which could have played a role in the team’s sloppy start, Benson said. Aspen will need to take a vested interest in improving its offensive output, especially its running attack, if it is to compete in Friday’s showdown against Roaring Fork, Benson said.”It’ll be one of the best atmospheres to play in all year and the kids get up quite a bit more to play under the lights,” Benson said. “It’s gonna be electric.”