Aspen, Basalt football, AHS tennis play host this weekend
Aspen High School debuts its first varsity football squad since 1994 on Saturday against Norwood at the Aspen School District track field. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Meanwhile, today the Aspen High boys tennis team hosts Cedaredge in the first high school match at the new clay courts at the Aspen Golf Club facility. Varsity and JV play begins at 3 p.m.
And later tonight, the Basalt High football team opens its season at home, under the lights at 7 p.m. against Meeker at the Basalt Middle School field.
For the Aspen High football team, Saturday’s game vs. Norwood is eight years in the making. Dwindling participation led to the demise of the program after the 1994 season, but two years ago the school revived football at the JV level. After a shaky, 1-9 debut in 2000, the Skiers rebounded last year with a 7-2 record (with the two losses coming against varsity opponents).
Aspen opens its season with two home games against smaller Class 1A opponents, Norwood, then Grand Valley at home on Sept. 7. Aspen’s Class 2A Western Slope League begins the following week, Sept. 13, at Basalt.
For Aspen to be successful this season, it needs to happen right away against the two smaller opponents, third-year head coach Tom Goode said earlier this week.
“There’s no doubt you have to be careful what you wish for, because we’re there now, at the varsity level,” coach Goode said. “This isn’t JV, we’re not taking baby steps anymore.
“I believe if we’re going to have any success with our program this year, we need to do it right away so we can go into our conference games with a little momentum and a little confidence.”
Aspen’s junior tailback Dusty Stutsman is likely to hear his No. 21 called early and often this season, though Goode hopes to establish a good passing attack this season with the arm of sophomore quarterback Pat Faurer.
“We’re expecting a lot from Dusty this year, and he’s going to deliver a lot,” Goode said. “No doubt, he’s going to be the nucleus of our offense. And regardless of how teams prepare for us, scouting or whatever, they’ve still got to stop him.
“And that’s not easy ? he’s a natural.
“But we’re working very hard at our passing game. We’re going to establish the running game, we know that, but we need to make strides in the passing game,” Goode said.
Last Saturday, Aug. 24, Aspen traveled to Cedaredge for scrimmages against Cedaredge and Plateau Valley, providing Aspen with its only break from hitting each other since double sessions began Aug. 12. While the teams didn’t keep score, Aspen came away with some lumps and a newfound confidence.
“It was rough ? big guys,” Stutsman admitted. “But we did really well up front.
“We’re a little intimidated with the [regular season] schedule, but I think we got some nerves out. We were playing hard.”
For senior defensive end Teddy Farrell, captain of the Aspen team along with fellow seniors Tyrone Gartner and Colin Gibson, Saturday’s game represents a four-year journey.
“It’s kinda weird ? we’ve been waiting for this week since we were freshmen, and we didn’t even have a team then. Now it’s finally here, but it hasn’t really sunk in,” he said.
“Everyone’s nervous, but once we get those first couple hits in, we’ll just settle into playing the game of football,” Farrell continued. “Most of the teams we’ll play will have us in size, so we’re going to have to want it more ? play with heart on defense, execute on offense.”
A week after losing its home opener, the Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Club made sure to remind its upcoming Mountain League opponents that it’ll still be a difficult test after a 52-31 win on Saturday over the Denver Barbarians.
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