Paul E. Anna: High Points |

Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

No one could have seen this coming. For the first time in the history of this town, the Aspen High School football Skiers are ranked as the No. 1 one team in Colorado’s Class 2A rankings. This is a stunning accomplishment.

The Denver Post, the official arbiter of such things, elevated the Skiers to the top spot this week after Faith Christian, a Denver juggernaut and undisputed powerhouse in the division for many years, was defeated by Denver Kent last Saturday. This means that a program that was nearly extinct just a few years ago has established itself as the team to beat.

Credit, of course, must go to the kids who over the last four years have put in the hard work to make it happen. Quarterback Randy Christensen and Nicky Ufkes and the other seniors have sweated the small stuff to help build this program. Junior Quinn Morehead, my personal favorite on the team, has shown incredible skills and enthusiasm playing both ways and on special teams, making big plays all over the field. And the offensive and defensive lines have been stout when it counts so far this year.

But there is no doubt that kudos for this resurgence must go to the ringleader Mike Sirko, the team’s head coach. Under Sirko, Aspen has been to the playoffs for three straight seasons, an unprecedented run. And perhaps most importantly, the feeling that pervades the program is that the kids are not just winning, they are having the time of their lives.

Now comes the hard part.

Until this week, the Skiers have always been the hunters. They have been the team that has been looking for and finding ways to beat teams considered to be better. They have defeated teams with more size and more speed, teams from bigger towns with better pedigrees. But the Skiers had nothing to lose.

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The challenge for the Skiers now shifts to how to play from the front of the pack. How to continue to maintain focus, poise and enthusiasm and get better each week while not getting too flush from the excitement of being No. 1.

With a 4-0 record, and the “No. 1” bull’s eye on their backs, it is the Skiers who will be stalked. There are six regular season opponents left, all of whom will be searching for a formula to knock off Aspen and make their year by being giant killers. It only gets harder when a team gets to the top of the polls. And four of those six games are on the road, including a bus ride to Olathe, a team that doubled up on the Skiers with a 52-26 win last year.

Having attended the opening win at the high school this year, I can tell you that the vibe is outstanding. Families and kids converge on the stadium to cheer the team on, socialize and gather under the autumn moon. If you have not gone to a game yet, do yourself a favor, grab a hat and coat, and head out to cheer the team on under the Friday night lights. There are home games on Oct. 15 and Nov. 5 at 7 p.m., and next week, on Oct. 8, at Basalt High School

Let’s help these kids win the state championship.

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