Aspen football closes out spring camp with Broncos’ 7-on-7 tournament
The second season of Travis Benson’s second stint as the Aspen High School football coach is well underway with spring camp ongoing. He insists not much has changed, with his predecessor Karson Pike having laid the foundation in his two seasons in charge.
“It’s always hard to lose a senior class, but it’s nice to see the program is building and kids just continue to fill in those roles,” Benson said. “Karson built a great model when he was here, and that model continues to grow. It’s just kind of building on what he started and enhancing it and making it better. Once you get those building blocks in, you are working on your mortar now.”
Benson, an AHS graduate who was the team’s head coach in both 2005 and 2006, returned to the lead role last season after Pike took a job with NCAA Division II Bemidji State University, where he enters his second season as the team’s co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Pike went 2-7 in his first season before a breakthrough 8-2 campaign in 2017. Despite the coaching change and a new quarterback, the Skiers didn’t drop off much in 2018, going 6-4 and coming within a game of winning the 2A Western Slope League. They made the state playoffs as the No. 12 seed, losing to No. 5 seed Salida in the first round.
“One thing coach always says is we are taking that one step today,” AHS senior-to-be Marcus Gerbaz said. “Very excited to get back on the field after a whole winter of just weight lifting and having to think about this past season and what I could have done better and now applying it to this season.”
On top of traditional practices and two-a-days, Aspen decided to head to the Front Range Thursday to take part in a 7-on-7 tournament hosted by the Denver Broncos. This, along with a linemen challenge for the non-skills players, will more or less wrap up spring camp for the Skiers.
“I like it. It’s keeping it interesting and new,” AHS senior-to-be Jonathan Woodrow said of attending the Broncos’ tournament. “We just have a lot of really good seniors. We have a bunch of people who are going to be good. A lot of us are confident. I think it’s going to be a good year.”
The Skiers certainly have plenty of talent expected to return, including quarterback Tyler Ward, running back/linebacker Trey Fabrocini and receiver/defensive back Max Ufkes, among others.
AHS won six games last season despite only having three home games, a schedule that will be flipped in its favor this coming fall with six home games. The 2019 season is scheduled to get underway Saturday, Sept. 7, against 2017 state champion Bayfield. This will be the first football game played on the Skiers’ new turf field, which is being installed this summer.
“Spring ball is the glue that binds everything together,” Benson said, “and it’s where the brotherhood is built. It is absolutely integral in those relationships getting built.”
As is tradition, the spring included Aspen’s Gridiron Classic, held Sunday at Aspen Golf Club. The annual scramble tournament is a fundraiser for the AHS football team and includes the players as caddies.
“I couldn’t be more appreciative for the guys I caddied for today and the other 30-some teams we had show up,” Gerbaz said Sunday. “Super appreciative that everyone shows up and is willing to put forth what they can to help out the football team.”
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The Colorado High School Activities Association on Friday announced the leagues and schedules for all the teams that opted to play in the spring, or Season C, a group that includes both Aspen and Basalt high schools.