Football playoffs: Aspen in as No. 12 seed; Basalt to host as No. 3 seed
The Class 2A playoff brackets were announced Sunday, and both Aspen and Basalt football teams find themselves among the lucky 16 with a chance still at the state title.
Basalt (8-1) was awarded the No. 3 seed and will host No. 14 seed D’Evelyn (7-2) in the first round, a rematch of a first-round game two seasons ago.
Aspen (6-3) is the tournament’s No. 12 seed and will travel to No. 5 Salida (8-1) in the first round.
Both games are expected to kickoff at 1 p.m. Saturday in Basalt and Salida. For the complete bracket, visit CHSAANow.com.
“We are super excited,” Aspen coach Travis Benson said. “We are honored to be a part of this 16-team pool. We are excited to represent the Western Slope, with four teams in the playoffs. Going over to Salida, we look forward to the challenge. We are excited to see what we can do.”
Of the 16 teams in the 2A tournament, four come from the Western Slope League. Along with Basalt and Aspen, Rifle is in as the No. 7 seed and will host No. 10 Eaton in the first round. Delta is the No. 11 seed and travels to No. 6 Platte Valley for the first round.
If the Panthers pull the upset and the Longhorns handle the Jaguars, Delta and Basalt could meet in the second round, a game BHS would host.
“Honestly, I think we are deserving of it. We were No. 1 most of the year in RPI,” Basalt coach Carl Frerichs said of the team’s high seed. “I’m super excited with that. Super excited for my kids. I think getting to play at home is a huge advantage for our guys.”
Despite finishing second to Rifle in the WSL, Basalt was awarded the better seed based off its RPI (rating percentage index) standing. As Frerichs said, the Longhorns did hold down the top spot in the state for most of the season.
Nearly all 16 teams in the 2A tournament are seeded as they finished in the final RPI standing, which is mathematically determined based off a team’s record, winning percentage, opponent’s winning percentage, opponent’s opponent’s winning percentage and strength of schedule.
This is the third straight season Basalt is hosting a first-round game. Last fall they beat Salida 28-22 in the first round as the No. 6 seed before losing 41-0 at eventual state champion Bayfield in the second round. Bayfield is back as the No. 1 seed this year.
In 2016, No. 8 seed Basalt hosted No. 9 D’Evelyn in the first round and lost, 27-20. Frerichs wouldn’t go as far as calling Saturday a “payback” game, but it’ll certainly be on some minds.
“It’s a whole different year. I know for our kids they will be excited to play them,” Frerichs said. “It is nice we played them two years ago. They are a little bit different this year. They still run the same offense; they are running a different defense. So really different kids, a little bit different scheme.”
Aspen faces a Salida team Basalt knocked out of the playoffs a year ago. The Spartans were a perfect 8-0 until losing to Bayfield Friday in the regular-season finale, 22-14. Bayfield also beat Aspen 20-8 on Sept. 8.
This will be the second 2A WSL team Salida has faced this season. The Spartans beat Delta on Sept. 7 in Salida, winning 28-22. Delta beat Aspen 49-40 on Sept. 28.
The Aspen-Salida winner plays either No. 4 La Junta or No. 13 Berthoud in the second round.
Last season, Aspen made the playoffs for the first time since 2013, losing as the No. 12 seed to No. 5 seed The Academy in the first round, 36-24.
“That experience last year paid off in huge margins this year,” Benson said. “It’s just getting that playoff mindset and understanding it’s getting into the heart of the state and the teams are good and deserve to be there. Every week you have to be on your game.”
Note: Citing player injuries, Monday’s junior varsity game between Aspen and Basalt has been canceled.