Aspen’s Stutsman does it all vs. Basalt
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Aspen’s Dusty Stutsman ran for 200-plus yards and four touchdowns Friday afternoon as the AHS Skiers beat Basalt for the first time since Aspen revived its varsity football program.
Involved in every aspect of the game in Aspen, Stutsman played on both sides of the ball, punted with astonishing accuracy, and accounted for all of Aspen’s points in the 24-8 victory.
But Stutsman didn’t take any of the credit.
“The offensive line did all of the work,” Stutsman said. “All I did was run through the holes.”
Stutsman, a senior, amassed 208 yards on 22 carries, most of which wasn’t needed for the win.
Aspen led 12-0 at halftime courtesy of Stutsman’s first two TDs, and the Skiers kept Basalt off the scoreboard until midway through the fourth quarter, when Stutsman – in the role of punter – was tackled in Aspen’s own end zone after a bad punt snap, resulting in a 2-point safety for Basalt.
With the score 28-2 and time winding down, Basalt didn’t quit. After driving deep into Aspen territory, Basalt quarterback Cody Burkholder connected with Michael McDonnell for a 1-yard TD pass with 7 seconds left. A 2-point conversion failed and so did Basalt’s ensuing on-side kick, which Aspen recovered to end the game.
The Longhorn’s Clayton Peetz, a junior, led the way on both sides of the ball, rushing for 173 yards on offense and recording a team-high nine tackles on defense.
“Clayton Peetz had one heck of a game,” said Aspen’s head coach Tom Goode. “He’s one heck of a football player and a fine young man.”
Peetz rumbled for a lot of yards, bending but not breaking Aspen’s defense, which was led by senior defensive end Michael Gordon.
“The defense came around,” said Goode. “They shut them down.”
Turnovers were key. In the first half, the Aspen defense recovered three fumbles.
“At halftime, I told them, `You give me one more turnover and the game is yours,'” Goode said.
Aspen created two more turnover’s in the second half.
“That was the story of the game,” Goode said. “We capitalized on three of five turnovers for touchdowns.”
Stutsman has now scored eight touchdowns in three games, and is well on his way to an epic season.
“He’s a fun back to watch, he could play on anybody’s team,” Goode said. “He has natural ability and he’s got power – he breaks tackles all the time.”
Additionally, Stutsman’s punts kept Basalt pinned down in their own territory for much of the game. In the second quarter with the game still close, Stutsman angled two punts out-of-bounds inside the Basalt 5-yard line.
“That’s been a very pleasant surprise for us,” Goode said.
Aspen (2-1) has now won twice as many games as they did all last season, when they were 1-8.
“If the season ended right now, we’d be tied for first,” Goode joked.
“It’s a great feeling.”
This is the fourth year Aspen has offered football, since the program disbanded in the mid-1990s, and only the second at the varsity level.
“The team is overwhelmed, they now believe in themselves,” Goode said. “Last year it took them a while to believe they could win.”
Unfortunately, some of that momentum may be lost this week as students are participating in experiential education programs around the country. There will be no classes, and only one practice Friday afternoon, and some players may not be back in time for Saturday’s home game against Cedaredge.
“It will be a very up-in-the-air game for us, I’m not pleased at all,” Goode said. “But that’s the nature of our program, we’ll get through it.”
Aspen faces Cedaredge at the middle school field at 1 p.m. Saturday. Basalt, 0-3, plays at home for the first time this season, hosting Gunnison at home at 7 p.m. Friday.
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