Aspen football wraps up non-league play at Grand Valley, BHS at Paonia
The Aspen High School football team needed a strong bounce back game after a loss at Bayfield, and it got that last week in a 48-12 rout of Cedaredge in its home opener. Now, the Skiers head back on the road for the third time in four games to face Grand Valley at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21 in Parachute.
“I continue to stress to them that you are only as good as your last game, so it feels good coming off Cedaredge,” AHS coach Travis Benson said. “But at the same token, you got to definitely prepare and grind and work and they did that this week. They showed up and there was a hunger with them still and that’s all we ask for.”
Aspen (2-1) is off to a better start than some may have predicted considering it lost its coach and quarterback from a year ago. But three games into the season and the Skiers have mostly picked up where they left off from an 8-2 season in 2017.
Class 1A Grand Valley (1-2) has faced some elite competition this season, although it didn’t fare well. The Cardinals have losses to Kent Denver, currently No. 10 in 2A, 49-6, and to current No. 4 in 2A, Rifle, 49-0. Their lone win came last week in a 42-0 rout of Lake County.
Regardless of where each team stands, they have played each other incredibly close the past three seasons.
“They always play us strong and always play well at home,” Benson said. “We go in knowing that we are going to get their best game, for sure. They are tough kids and they like to fight and they definitely like to run the ball.”
A year ago at Grand Valley, the Skiers escaped with a 30-26 win. In 2016, Aspen lost 48-34 at home. In 2015, Aspen left Parachute with a 12-6 win. Benson said seeing another close game Friday night isn’t out of the question.
“It would not surprise me at all,” Benson said. “Our kids’ preparation was good this week. Our execution was great this week. We are starting to get our rhythm back in the passing game. It’s just a tough place to play.”
This will be the final non-league game for the unranked Skiers. Aspen opens 2A Western Slope League play next week at Delta. AHS only has two of its five league games at home this season, making that three homes games in nine total contests.
“It probably started last year. They became road warriors then,” Benson said. “We definitely have played well on the road. Going down to Parachute is not a huge haul, but at the same token it’s always fun playing in a different atmosphere.”
Longhorns head to Paonia looking to stay IN driver’s seat
Even Basalt High School football coach Carl Frerichs believes it’s way too early in the season to put too much stock into the rankings. Yet, he still believes his players should take some pride in where they currently sit.
Heading into Friday’s 7 p.m. game at Paonia, Basalt (3-0) is ranked No. 5 in Class 2A by CHSAANow.com and has the No. 1 RPI in the classification, ahead of powerhouses like La Junta (RPI No. 2), Bayfield (RPI No. 5) and WSL foe Rifle (RPI No. 6). Aspen is No. 11 in RPI.
“Even though in the long run it doesn’t mean anything, it is something these kids should be proud of with how they started and where they are being recognized in the state in 2A football,” Frerichs said Thursday afternoon. “We want to make sure we control our own destiny and I think tomorrow night’s game will really decide that at the end.”
The Longhorns have looked every bit a legitimate championship contender through three games, shutting out both Olathe and Pagosa Springs, with a 47-6 rout of host Battle Mountain in the middle. Class 1A Paonia (2-1) comes into Friday’s game with back-to-back wins, a 41-0 rout of Monte Vista and a 19-0 win at Coal Ridge, one of Basalt’s league opponents.
The Eagles’ lone loss came in the season opener, 38-0 to Centauri. Paonia is effectively ranked No. 11 in 1A this week, with an RPI of 18 in 1A.
“They are not real deep, so I think that’s one of our biggest advantages. We play a lot more kids,” Frerichs said of Friday’s matchup. “They are pretty strong up front; they are pretty aggressive up front. So we just got to make sure we are matching that aggressive play back, which I think we will.”
Basalt will face Coal Ridge next week for its WSL opener.
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