Ufkes, 12 other Aspen football players honored
November 25, 2009
ASPEN – The Aspen football team has much to be thankful for.
Tops on the list? Nicky Ufkes will return next fall.
The record-setting junior propelled the Skiers to nine wins this fall, a state quarterfinal berth and rushed for 2,506 yards – or about 1.42 miles. That number is currently tops in the state (Kent Denver’s Tyler Jackson, who has 2,505 yards, plays this weekend).
Ufkes’ name sits on top of another list, too. He is one of 13 Aspen players to garner postseason recognition from the 2A Western Slope’s coaches. Joining him on the league’s first team is Anderson Cole, Taylor Mayer, Matt Holmes, Dane Christensen and Walker Moriarty. Jonathan Woodrow, James Britvar, Nick Codd, Quinn Morehead, Andrew Papenfus, Forrest Thomas and Rex Christensen are honorable mentions.
Basalt’s Chantri West, Corey Ostrander, Chris Walker and Tito Gamboa are first team selections, while Ish Martinez, David Hammond, Zach Mobilian and Erick Enriquez are honorable mentions.
Ufkes’ selection was a foregone conclusion after a season in which he scored 31 touchdowns, averaged more than 8 yards per carry and had a seven-game stretch in which he rushed for 226 or more yards.
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Ufkes rushed for 482 yards and four scores in postseason games against Pagosa Springs and Faith Christian. In the latter, he twice broke free for runs of 40 or more yards.
“I told him to expect more carries [next year]. He’ll be a senior, he can suck it up,” joked Skiers head coach Mike Sirko on Wednesday.
“He did all the things you ask him to do. I’m really proud of him, and I’m glad we’ve got him back. … I never had somebody with that many yards, and we hardly played anybody in the first three games. A freshman was the leading rusher in the Lake County game.”
While he deferred to Ufkes often, Cole put up some impressive numbers of his own. The senior threw for 1,176 yards and 16 touchdowns – two coming in the state quarterfinals. He also picked up 171 yards on the ground and scored 11 times.
Clearing the way up front was Christensen, who starred on both the offensive and defensive lines, and Holmes, who routinely helped seal the edge at tight end.
Holmes, who returned to football after a one-year hiatus, hauled in 14 catches and caught two scores. Against Faith Christian, he had an interception and scored on a 20-yard pass.
“He became a pretty big piece. He was really one of our unsung heroes,” Sirko said. “He showed great toughness and stepped up and became the player we thought he would be.”
Holmes’ production on offense was sorely needed in the absence of Moriarty, who broke his ankle Oct. 30 in Gunnison. Before being relegated to the sidelines for the final three games, the senior caught 29 passes and scored nine touchdowns.
“He excelled on offense because of the weapon he was,” Sirko said. “Losing him was a big loss. It’s hard to replace a go-to guy on the team.”
Mayer proved to be a capable replacement at receiver – and nearly every other position. The junior, who will vie for the starting quarterback job next fall, saw time under center, at tailback, tight end, inside and outside linebacker and free safety.
“Whenever someone went down with an injury, we plugged Taylor in. … The kid is one of most versatile players I’ve ever coached,” Sirko said. “Everywhere he played, he excelled. He wasn’t a stop-gap kid.”
West filled a similar role for the Longhorns in 2009. The senior saw time in the offensive backfield and at linebacker and rapidly emerged as a team leader, Basalt head coach Carl Frerichs said Wednesday. West led the team in tackles.
In addition to playing at free safety and linebacker, Ostrander hit his stride under center, where he proved to be a dual threat. In addition, he averaged nearly 40 yards a punt, Frerichs said.
Blocking for Ostrander was fellow senior Walker – who “Gave everything you could possibly ask of a high school kid,” Frerichs said – and sophomore Gamboa, who never came off the field. In addition to playing center, Gamboa served as snapper on special teams and a key member of the defensive line.
He is one of eight starters returning next season from a team that was 4-6 and played in five games decided by a touchdown or less.
“I felt like as a team we could’ve been 6-4. We lost one game by three and another by only one,” Frerichs said. “With five sophomores and one freshman starting, there was a lot to be proud of. We were competitive.”
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