Another familiar foe heads to Basalt in 2A state football semifinal matchup
A week later and the storyline hasn’t changed much. The Basalt High School football team is again set to square off in a home playoff game against an all too familiar league foe with program history at stake.
At 1 p.m. Saturday, No. 9 seed Basalt (9-2) will host No. 4 Delta (10-1) in the Class 2A state semifinals. The winner will move on to play either No. 2 Sterling (10-1) or No. 3 Resurrection Christian (10-1) for the state championship on Nov. 30 in Pueblo.
“The kids’ dedication and the kids’ want is what’s so special right now,” BHS coach Carl Frerichs said. “One of the things that is such an advantage for us is playing at home. I also think it’s such an exciting time for our kids. Our kids have been showing up for practice, working hard.”
This is the first 2A semifinal appearance in Basalt’s history. According to ColoradoPreps.com, the Longhorns have five playoff wins ever, with four of them coming over the past three seasons, and two in the past two weeks. The only other win came in 1979 when Basalt was in Class 1A; BHS lost in the semifinals that season to eventual champion Limon.
Delta’s playoff history is a little more robust, having made the semifinals three times since 2013, two of which came in 3A. However, the Panthers lost all three of those games. Their only championship game appearances came in 1960 and 1961, where they won the first and lost the second.
Not only will Basalt have to overcome a lot of history to win Saturday, it will have to overcome one of its worst games in recent years. The Longhorns played at Delta on Oct. 18 in a 2A Western Slope League contest, losing 35-6 in a game that saw BHS fall behind 14-0 barely a minute into the first quarter.
“It’s the only game this year I just feel like we didn’t coach very well and we didn’t feel like the kids played very well. It was definitely a frustrating night,” Frerichs recalled. “It was really the only game this year where defensively we didn’t play very good assignment football. And I don’t think the game plan was very good. It was honestly a 50-50 thing with the kids — I don’t think I lined them up in the positions they should have been in.”
What should encourage the Longhorns is how they played against the Panthers the two seasons prior. BHS won 13-0 in 2018, Delta’s first season as part of the current 2A WSL, and Basalt won 35-7 in 2017 when Delta was still in the 2A Intermountain League. The Panthers were in Class 3A as recently as 2015, a season in which they went 12-2 overall and lost in the state semifinals.
When Basalt hosted No. 1 Rifle last weekend in the quarterfinals — a stunning 21-14 double overtime win for the Longhorns — it was a similar situation of two teams playing that knew each other maybe too well. Delta’s only loss this season happened to come Oct. 11 to Rifle, 47-29. The Bears had been unbeaten until Basalt ended their season in the quarterfinals.
“We both have a pretty good idea of what we like to do, which can be a plus, but it can also be a negative,” Frerichs said of seeing Delta again. “We definitely made some tweaks, but we also don’t want to over coach. The biggest thing is we want to put our kids in the best position possible to be ready to go, and that’s what we’ve been trying to work on all week.”