Aspen High School football: Crunch time
The Aspen Times
Crunch time hit the Western League this week with two games left in the regular season for local high school football.
“We’ve had a good week of practice. The kids are focused and ready to go,” Aspen High School head coach Mike Sirko said as the Skiers head to Parachute for a 7 p.m. game today against Grand Valley.
“You’ve seen the scores in this league this year,” Sirko said. “It seems that it’s a matter of what team shows up ready to play.”
The Skiers are coming off their most productive game of the season in last week’s 41-20 victory over Coal Ridge at the Aspen High School field.
The Skiers piled up nearly 390 rushing yards, using a series of long drives against the winless Titans.
Ryan Fitzgerald totaled 280 rushing yards on 39 carries and three touchdowns as the Skiers improved to 3-2 in the Western League, 4-3 overall.
They are tied with Bayfield in the conference.
Olathe and Gunnison share the league lead with 5-0 records. They both are 5-2 overall.
Grand Valley (1-4 in league and 1-6 overall) is coming off a big loss at Basalt last weekend (51-21).
“It’s Grand Valley’s last home game … their senior game,” Sirko said, adding that he expects a fired-up performance from the Cardinals.
“We’ve don’t take anything for granted,” Sirko said. “We’ve got to be ready.”
The crunch-time weekend in the Western League includes two big road trips by the conference leaders, putting the standings up for grabs.
Olathe will make the journey to play at Bayfield (near Durango) tonight while Gunnison will play at Pagosa Springs.
In tonight’s other conference game, Basalt (1-4, 1-6 overall) will take it’s recent win to New Castle for a game against Coal Ridge.
The Western League season will close Oct. 25 with Aspen hosting Basalt in the annual rivalry game.
Olathe will play at Gunnison in a game that could determine the conference champion.
Pagosa Springs will play a longtime rivalry game at Bayfield in a matchup of former rivals from the old Intermountain League.
Grand Valley will play at Coal Ridge in the I-70 rivalry matchup.
When the dust settles after Oct. 25, state playoff assignments will be handed out.
Conference champions and power-point leaders will move on.
“We appreciate every game and every opportunity,” Sirko said, adding that the Skiers are out to post their seventh consecutive winning record under his guidance.
They’ve also made the playoffs all six years.
“We talked to the kids about … they get a chance to be a part of the history of what we’ve done here (with Aspen High School football),” Sirko said.
“We know that we have to be focused and determined … and we have to take care our responsibilities,” Sirko said.
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Aspen is set to add to its Olympic heritage next month as three local athletes head to the Beijing Games. Halfpipe skiers Alex Ferreira and Hanna Faulhaber, as well as cross-country skier Hailey Swirbul, will head over soon, but before that a send-off party is set for Wednesday.