Aspen football to hit the road to Gunnison
The Aspen Times
The Skiers, fresh off their first snowstorm game in years, may get another one Friday.
The Aspen High School football team will get back on the bus for a trip to Gunnison, the last long trip of the season for the Skiers.
And much like last week, the weather forecast calls for rain, snow and chilly temperatures.
“Gunnison is on a roll. They are coming off an 0-9 season last year, and they are hungry,” veteran Aspen head coach Mike Sirko said of the Friday night matchup against the Cowboys, co-leaders of the Western League.
“We’ve had success against them in the past, and this is their opportunity,” Sirko said.
Gunnison moved into a share of the league lead with a 20-9 victory over Basalt last weekend — in the same storm that hit Aspen during the Skiers’ game against Olathe, a 28-17 loss.
Gunnison trailed at Basalt before the biggest part of the storm hit. And the Cowboys scored two late touchdowns to improve to 3-0 in conference, 3-2 overall.
Sirko said the Skiers bounced back from their homecoming loss to Olathe, also 3-0 and 3-2 overall.
“We got right back into it,” Sirko said of the practice regimen to prep the Skiers for Friday’s game at Gunnison.
The Skiers are 2-1 in Western League play, 3-2 overall.
They are tied with Bayfield and Pagosa Springs at 2-1 in the league. Aspen beat both Bayfield and Pagosa Springs earlier this year.
Sirko said the Skiers will have to work together and play with great intensity against Gunnison.
“We’re going to have to really want it,” Sirko said. “I feel like the league is up for grabs. It’s a matter of who’s ready to play on every weekend.”
League co-leader Olathe scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns with a power running game last weekend in Aspen, handing the Skiers their first conference loss.
The Pirates will host Basalt on Friday night.
In other Western League games Friday, Pagosa Springs (2-3, 2-1 in league) will play at Grand Valley (0-3, 0-5).
Also, Bayfield (2-1, 3-2) will play at Coal Ridge (0-3, 0-5) in New Castle.
“Even the 0-5 teams in our league have been in every game,” Sirko said of the conference balance in 2013.
He said Grand Valley nearly upset Gunnison, driving to the Cowboys’ 5-yard line before the Cardinals were turned back in a game earlier this year.
“And Basalt … after Bayfield had a bad snap but still got a two-point conversion, forcing Basalt to go for two, and they (Longhorns) lost 8-6,” Sirko said.
“You can’t take any team in the league for granted,” Sirko said. “For us, we’ve got to have … 100 percent.”
The Skiers will return home to host Coal Ridge on Oct. 11. They will play at Grand Valley on Oct. 18.
Aspen will close the regular season at home against rival Basalt on Oct. 25.
Olathe has a game remaining at home against Pagosa Springs before closing the regular season with trips to Bayfield and Gunnison.
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