Aspen High football season nears with lots of changes
New coach, new league, new style — yes, “new” seems to be the theme for Aspen High School football with the 2016 season only days away.
After a tumultuous 2-7 campaign in which head coach Ryan Triece resigned partway through the season, Karson Pike is now at the helm and doing what he can to get the Skiers ready for their Zero Week contest.
“We have about 35, 36 guys out. So you are limited on what you can do. And a lot of those guys are young,” Pike said following Friday’s practice. “But it’s been great. We went through the first couple of days really teaching the tempo of practice and how we go about things. Yesterday, I guess Thursday, it really clicked for them.”
Aspen opens the season Friday at Middle Park in Granby, a team coming off a 5-4 season that also has a new coach. The Skiers’ home opener will take place the following week, Sept. 2, against Arvada.
With only two seniors and a plethora of underclassmen on the roster, there will be plenty of fresh faces on the field for AHS this fall.
“I definitely feel like I’m one of the main leaders out here. It’s a good challenge and I like to help the younger kids,” said senior lineman James Kistner, who will be one of the team’s leaders on both sides of the ball. “It’s really tough on the young guys because they just came from eighth grade and there is a lot different teaching style down there. Trying to adapt to how we play is a lot different for them and it’s hard in 10 days.”
Pike, 30, is a Colorado native that most recently was the offensive coordinator at powerhouse Iowa Western Community College. He played collegiately at Central Lakes College and at St. Cloud State, both in Minnesota, before attending graduate school at Minnesota’s Bemidji State University.
He’ll be relying on a veteran force like Kistner to help bring the younger players up to speed as quick as possible.
“I really challenged him this summer in the weight room, which he did a great job just on his own,” Pike said of Kistner. “But now, it’s time to start to be a leader and bring some kids along. He did a great job encouraging the young guys to come out.”
Another big change this season will be the newly formed Class 2A Western Slope League, which includes Aspen, Basalt, Roaring Fork, Coal Ridge, Moffat County and Steamboat Springs.
With official practices having only started Monday, it’s too soon to tell what the season will hold. However, there is plenty of excitement to be had, from coaches and players alike.
“He’s definitely bringing in a new and fun style from last year. Last year was pretty dull. This year he is bringing in a lot of exciting drills,” Kistner said of Pike. “I’m excited to play some new teams. Of course, I still want to beat Basalt and Roaring Fork. We still play them. Try to be the beast of the valley.”
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