Aspen football plays for conference lead |

Aspen football plays for conference lead

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

There’s a lot more at stake than homecoming pride.

There’s the matter of the conference leadership in the Class 2A Western League.

The Aspen High School football team will host Olathe at 7 p.m. today in a battle of league co-leaders.

“This Olathe team is coming off a tough year last year,” Aspen head coach Mike Sirko said. “And we’re kind of in their way.”

The Skiers are 3-1 overall, 2-0 in conference and ranked 10th in the lastest Class 2A poll by

The Olathe Pirate are 2-0 in conference and 2-2 overall.

Aspen, Olathe and Gunnison all take 2-0 records into tonight’s games.

Gunnison (2-2 overall) will play at Basalt (0-2, 0-4) at 7 p.m. today.

“Olathe’s been strong. Since I’ve been here, they’ve won the league four years in a row,” Sirko said of the Pirates, who went on to win state football championships in 2010 and 2008.

“Those were their first state championships, so … they’ve built a program,” Sirko said of tonight’s homecoming game at the Aspen School District field.

“We’re excited about the opportunity,” the Aspen head coach said. “Two 2-0 teams play. And they run pretty much the same things we run.”

He said the game could come down to a kicking-game play, a defensive breakdown or a turnover.

“We’re probably as healthy as we’ve been all year,” Sirko said. “Now, it’s a matter of trying to put all the pieces together.”

Aspen started the year with a nonconference win at Ignacio before losing at valley rival Roaring Fork in Carbondale in another nonleague game.

Since then, the Skiers have won two Western League games in a row at Pagosa Springs and at home against Bayfield last week.

Olathe lost to preseason games to regional rivals Hotchkiss (34-13) and Cedaredge (34-20) before conference wins at Grand Valley (41-27) and at home against Coal Ridge (43-0). Cedaredge is ranked in the top three in the Class 1A state football polls.

“We had a great crowd last week,” Sirko said. “I was impressed. The people were awesome.”

Another big homecoming crowd is expected tonight even with chilly, damp weather in the forecast.

“I know the seniors are excited about homecoming. I hope they play well,” Sirko said. “I told the team to go out and play with one heartbeat and have some fun.”

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