Aspen football plays at Arvada on Saturday, a week after 80-point opener
Quarterback R.J. Peshek didn’t dwell too long on last week’s season-opening win over Middle Park. Even though the senior for the Aspen High School football team put up unreal numbers in the Skiers’ 80-50 win, the reality is none of those points will carry over into Saturday’s game at Arvada.
“After the game, we had 24 hours just to reflect on it,” Peshek said. “Come Sunday, we started watching film and that was a thing of the past. Now we are on to Arvada.”
Those numbers from the Middle Park game are difficult to forget about, however. The 130 combined points “sits just outside the CHSAA record book,” according to the Colorado High School Activities Association. A couple more scores would have put them in the top 10 all-time.
Even so, CHSAA says the game still resulted in seven new entries into the record book. The 1,259 yards of total offense between the teams ranks ninth in state history, while the 46 combined third quarter points is seventh in state history.
Peshek finished with 554 yards of total offense, 12th in state history, and eight total touchdowns, 11th in state history. Junior receiver Noah Hollander had 384 all-purpose yards, which is 17th in state history.
The 80 points scored put Aspen halfway to its total from all of 2016, when it scored exactly 160 points en route to a 2-7 record.
“Our fast-paced offense was really getting to them, because we could tell by halftime they were really tired,” Hollander said.
According to the official stats entered into MaxPreps, Peshek finished the game 20 of 30 passing for 286 yards and two scores. He also rushed for 268 yards and six touchdowns on only 15 carries, a 17.9 yards per carry average. Hollander had 10 catches for 171 yards and a score.
The numbers alone certainly caught the attention of the state, with CHSAA posting about the game a few times on its website. But for the Skiers, there is still plenty to learn from. Like any coach, it was easy for Aspen’s Karson Pike to find teaching fodder for the week.
“Offensively we were pretty sharp, but we did turn over the ball twice. And in a tough game, that is the difference,” Pike said. “All we did was maybe grab a little attention for a minute and everybody is looking for us to fall.”
The impressive offense was countered with an equally unimpressive defense. Middle Park running back Blake Weimer also made the record books, scorching the AHS defense for 205 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. He had 522 all-purpose yards. Middle Park quarterback Boston Gleich was 19 of 29 passing for 231 yards. He also ran for 115 yards on 15 carries.
“We obviously have a high-powered offense, and with that we know we need a strong defense to back us up,” AHS senior lineman Finn Allen said. “It was obviously great coming out in the second half and we were finally able to stop them a couple of times and hold them to only 16 points in the second half. That gives us some confidence that we can do that now.”
Missed tackles were the main culprit for both teams last week. This included on special teams, with both Weimer and Hollander repeatedly giving their respective offense great field position. Hollander even returned the opening kickoff back for a touchdown.
“I would venture to say that in most zero week games, there are a lot of missed tackles. Nine practices to teach kids how to properly do it is not easy,” Pike said. “As good as our kick return did, our kickoff team did the opposite. We are giving up some while we are gaining some. We got to get more consistent all around on all units to really push to where we want to be at the end of the season.”
Life on the road
This week is officially Week 1 for the high school football season. Saturday’s noon game at Arvada will be the season opener for the Bulldogs, which went 5-4 last season under first-year coach Luke Orvis. Arvada also opened 2016 against the Skiers, a 16-12 win for AHS in Aspen.
While the Skiers had the luxury of opening up the season at home this fall, they will play their next four games on the road. This also includes a bye during the school’s experiential education week.
Aspen won’t play at home again until hosting Basalt on Oct. 6 for homecoming.
“We have to be road warriors. This is step one of that journey for the month of September for us,” Pike said. “Hopefully this gets our feet wet with a little bit of travel.”
The Skiers will head to Arvada, located just northwest of downtown Denver, on Friday. This will be the team’s first overnight game trip under Pike, who is in his second season as head coach. The noon kickoff and Front Range heat will be extra obstacles the team isn’t used to, but the team has spent much of the week talking about staying centered with its newfound attention after last week’s record-setting game.
“Having this game be at noon, it’s a little different weather and a little different temperature than we are used to. We just got to come out focused and not let that get in our way,” Peshek said. “I hold my expectations that high now, after that happened. I hope the team does too. Just come out the same way we did and play that same way. It’s good, just having people who didn’t really think about us start thinking about us.”
Basalt, which opened the season with a 34-14 zero week loss at Rifle, has a bye this week. The Longhorns will next host Grand Valley Sept. 8 in their home opener.
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After mixed messages and increased pressure from coaches, players and parents, CHSAA said Wednesday the fall football season was back on, should schools choose to take part.