Aspen High football team looks ahead to 2018 fall season after spring camp
2018 Aspen High School football schedule
*Indicates league game
Aug. 24 at Meeker
Sept. 8 at Bayfield
Sept. 14 vs. Cedaredge
Sept. 21 at Grand Valley
Sept. 28 at Delta*
Oct. 5 vs. Moffat*
Oct. 12 at Rifle*
Oct. 19 vs. Coal Ridge*
Oct. 26 at Basalt*
All Travis Benson wanted to see was growth. Earlier this month, the new Aspen High School football head coach took his team to Western State Colorado University in Gunnison, the final hurrah to their spring camp.
As one of the smallest teams there, the Skiers were just trying to hold their own.
“That’s all I asked of the players, is I wanted to see one step forward every day,” Benson said June 10 after the team’s annual golf fundraiser at Aspen Golf Club. “We made progress every day. We went in with some very good football teams on the other side of the ball and were able to execute and perform well, but still left areas for growth.”
When the season gets underway in August, Aspen football will try and continue the success it found last fall under Karson Pike. After going 2-7 two seasons ago, the Skiers went 8-2 a year ago in Pike’s second season and made the Class 2A playoffs for the first time since 2013. In December, Pike resigned to become the offensive coordinator at NCAA Division II Bemidji State University in Minnesota.
Enter Benson, who is a 1995 AHS graduate and was actually the team’s head coach in both 2005 and 2006, going a combined 4-13 those two seasons.
After bouncing around in various roles across the valley, including being part of the Glenwood Springs High School staff when it won the 2008 state championship, Benson returned to AHS as an assistant in 2015 and now steps into his second stint as the team’s head coach.
“We lost a lot of seniors and we lost our coach, coach Pike, but we are really excited,” AHS senior-to-be Cooper Johnson said. “We went to camp and we played really well against big teams and we showed up and it definitely benefited us and we are excited for the season.”
The most intriguing question facing the Skiers is who will play quarterback in 2018. Gone is three-year starter R.J. Peshek, who plans to walk on at Bryant University in Rhode Island. Competing for his spot are sophomore Tyler Ward and junior Jon Haisfield.
“I’m not necessarily looking at it as a quarterback battle,” Benson said. “I’m looking at those guys not only making it a competitive situation for each other, but also a supporting role for each other because they compliment each other very well in a lot of different attributes.”
Outside of voluntary workouts this summer, the Skiers won’t return to the field until practice officially gets underway Aug. 6. Aspen faces an uphill battle this fall in a beefed up Class 2A Western Slope League that now includes both Rifle and Delta, both traditional powers this side of the Rockies. On top of that, AHS only has three home games in 2018.
“Considering we came in with half as many players as any of the other teams and being divisions below them, I think we competed very well,” Aspen senior-to-be Trey Thorpe said of this month’s camp. “We definitely stacked up to a lot of those teams and not only that we were able to gain a lot from the camp. It’s been a very smooth transition.”
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