Aspen football opens home season Friday
The Aspen Times
A home game.
The Aspen High School football team, after traipsing around Western Colorado for nearly a month, will make its home debut Friday night.
Coach Mike Sirko can’t wait.
And the Skiers can’t wait. Particularly with a ranked opponent that’s been the measure of the Western League for the last three seasons.
“We are really looking forward to having a home game,” Aspen head coach Mike Sirko said. “It’s the fourth game of the season, and we’re finally at home.”
The Skiers will host No. 10-ranked Bayfield at 7 p.m. Friday at the AHS field.
The Skiers started the year with a long trip to the Four Corners for a 39-12 nonconference victory over Ignacio, a Class 1A football school.
Aspen traveled down Highway 82 the next week where the Skiers lost a tough 20-17 decision to Roaring Fork in Carbondale.
Last week, the Skiers made another 6-hour bus trip to Pagosa Springs where they opened the conference season with a dramatic 21-14 victory.
“Our defense will need to come up pretty big again this week,” Sirko said of the Friday night matchup against defending conference champion Bayfield (2-1 overall, 1-0 in league).
“Bayfield brings a lot of success from the past,” Sirko said of the Wolverines, who reached the state semifinals last year before losing at Platte Valley, in what is now a soaked Weld County. Two years ago, Bayfield reached the state championship game before losing for the first and only time all season to Florence.
Marshall Hahn, the Bayfield native son who returned to coach the Wolverines, has moved on to Rogers, Ark., with his triple-option offense.
Gary Heide, the former West Grand coach, has taken over, bringing the Wing T offense to the Wolverines, who opened the league season with a hard-fought 8-6 victory over Basalt in Bayfield last weekend.
Bayfield beat Class 1A Dolores, 43-0, a week earlier.
The Wolverines opened the season with a 28-6 loss at Kirtland Central, a Class 3A school in New Mexico.
That means Bayfield and Aspen are tied atop the Western League with matching 1-0 records.
“We know we’ve got to control the ball against them,” Sirko said. “We’ll have to play error-free football.”
He said the Skiers cannot afford to give up a kickoff return for a touchdown like they did a week ago in Pagosa Springs.
“Special teams, defense … we have to stick to our assignments,” the veteran Aspen coach said.
Last week, the Aspen defense put up two goal-line stands to win at Pagosa Springs.
Plus, the AHS defense forced a fumble that was returned for the game-winning points.
“Every day, every week is a new challenge,” Sirko said. “We’ll have some kids in a new position again this week.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday
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A confident group early in the season, the Aspen High School boys soccer team lost its footing midway through and could have seen its playoff aspirations slip away. But the Skiers came together in a way they hadn’t in many years.