Another Aspen shocker
CARBONDALE – Brimming with energy – even after a physical, bruising 48 minutes of football – the Aspen Skiers sprinted over to the visitors bleachers and engaged in a chant with their rowdy fans.”We are Aspen! We are Aspen!” they chanted in unison. It was a message, of sorts, to all who have yet to find out.The Skiers have built a legitimate football program, and a 21-7 win at Roaring Fork on Friday served as another in a series of statements declaring just that.Aspen’s workhorse running back Tucker Eason bulldozed his way to 204 yards on 36 carries, shouldering more than his share of the offensive load. And, sure enough, the adrenaline-riding senior was still plenty energetic after his 4-1 Skiers took down the Rams for the first time since the program’s re-establishment back in 2002.
“What a great game,” said Eason, whose team is now 3-0 in the 2A Western Slope under new coach Mike Sirko. “We were looking to pound the rock and take it to ’em and that’s what we did. We played solid defense. We didn’t let them get any big plays.”Two critical Roaring Fork turnovers and a fourth-quarter, safety-producing sack by Walker Hill lifted Aspen in what, for the most part, was a meeting of evenly-matched teams.But it was the Rams who got off on the wrong foot from the onset. After the Roaring Fork defense forced the Skiers to punt on the opening possession, its offense coughed up a fumble on its second play from scrimmage, giving Aspen the ball at the Rams’ 33-yard line.From there, it took the Skiers 13 plays – 10 of them handoffs to Eason – to reach the end zone. A 16-yard play-action pass from Anderson Cole to 6-foot-6 receiver Cory Parker for a touchdown capped the march.
Roaring Fork responded with a score on the ensuing possession, marching 69 yards on 13 plays for a TD. Jake Kinney finished off the drive with a 5-yard scamper outside left tackle. That made it 7-7 with 8 minutes, 40 seconds to go until half.The score would stand until the third quarter, and Aspen wasted little time finding the end zone on its first possession. Cole pushed across the goal line from a yard out, slapping an exclamation point on a nine-play, 91-yard drive.Down the stretch, the Roaring Fork offense found little rhythm. The most damaging blow came on a key third-quarter drive that saw the Rams advance to the Aspen 28 before fumbling away possession.
That led to a safety and fourth-quarter TD run by Eason that put the game on ice.”I told [our kids] before the game that those guys would come in here fired up,” Roaring Fork coach Mike Brinson said. “They feel they have a team that can win, and that’s what they did. [The Skiers] are believing in each other and their system. It’s working for them.”And, of little surprise to Brinson, turnovers loomed large in the game’s outcome.”It just kills you. It kills your momentum,” said the Rams’ second-year frontman, whose team fell to 1-4 overall and 1-2 in the Slope. “When you have two teams matched up well, that’s usually what it comes down to.”Quarterback Ryan Wiemer did finish with 139 yards on 10-of-23 passing for the Rams, who travel to face Gunnison next weekend. Aspen is at home against Olathe, ranked No. 4 in the state in Class 2A.
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Aspen’s Cassidy Jarrell was bumped up to the U.S. freeski A team for this coming winter season, which remains in limbo as coronavirus cases rise across the country.