Aspen football heads to Steamboat
There hadn’t been much reason to doubt the Aspen High School football team through its 5-0 start to the season. But, a 48-22 homecoming loss to Basalt on Oct. 6 gave the Skiers reason to be concerned.
At least, there was concern for a couple of days. Then, it was back to business as usual.
“It hurt a little bit,” AHS sophomore receiver Max Ufkes said. “It was a little unfamiliar this year, but we definitely wanted to get back at it and get that win and get back in the groove of things.”
The Skiers responded with a 64-6 win over Roaring Fork last week that improved their record to 6-1 overall and kept them at No. 11 in RPI in Class 2A. While they are still technically alive for the 2A Western Slope League title heading into Friday’s 7 p.m. game at Steamboat Springs, it’s also a long shot with Basalt having the chance to clinch the outright league title Friday at Moffat County.
So, it’s about staying in the top 16 of RPI the final two weeks in order to make the playoffs.
“Expectations on this team alone are a lot higher,” senior offensive lineman and linebacker Finn Allen said. “I feel like everyone out here wants that playoff spot and everyone is putting in all the effort they can. It’s in our hands now to deal with the problems we face and the adversity we need to get over.”
Steamboat Springs (1-6, 1-2) has an RPI of 39 in the 42-team classification. The Sailors’ only win came Oct. 6 at Roaring Fork, 41-0. The Rams are 0-7 and host Coal Ridge (3-4, 0-3) Friday night.
Regardless of what happens Friday between Basalt and Moffat County in Craig, an Aspen victory at Steamboat would set up a de facto playoff game for the Skiers next week against the Bulldogs.
With an RPI of 25, Moffat County likely needs to beat Basalt to have a realistic chance at the playoffs.
There is a chance Aspen, Basalt and Moffat County could finish the season in a three-way tie for first in the WSL. The league’s automatic playoff spot would be decided via a points tiebreaker.
“There are no guarantees, but in some ways we own a little bit of our own destiny,” Aspen coach Karson Pike said. “We certainly want to talk about staying focused every week and going 1-0, making sure we are doing the right things that way so when we get to the last game, it is pretty meaningful.”
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Winter sports practices were officially allowed to begin last week, Jan. 18, after the Colorado High School Activities Association was given a variance from the state’s health officials. Games were allowed to be played starting this week.