Aspen’s third win comes at a cost
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” Mike Sirko was Hotchkiss’ man of the year in 1979. These days, he sends Bulldogs fans home unhappy.
Behind 232 rushing yards and three touchdowns Friday night from his versatile senior running back Beau Seguin, Sirko’s current team at Aspen handed his former team a loss for the second straight year. This one was a 34-20 win that left the Skiers a perfect 3-0.
Seguin scored Aspen’s first two touchdowns in the span of six minutes in the first quarter, then finished off the Bulldogs late in the fourth quarter when he shook free up the right sideline for a 45-yard burst to the end zone.
Aspen’s defense did its part, holding the Bulldogs’ option attack scoreless after Hotchkiss returned the second half kickoff 97 yards to cut Aspen’s lead to 21-20.
“I was really impressed with [our poise],” said Sirko, who won nine games and clinched a state quarterfinal berth when he landed his first head coaching job at Hotchkiss 29 years ago. “It’s a whole new season. There’s a whole new group of kids out there. You don’t know how they’re going to react. Beau Seguin and some of our other seniors really stepped up as far as taking on that leadership role.”
The win came at an expense. Aspen lost two of its senior captains ” linebacker and fullback Travis VanDomelen and linebacker and tight end Walker Hill ” to injuries. VanDomelen left the game in the third quarter after injuring his right foot while Hill was sidelined after tweaking his knee.
“We’ll get some X rays and see how serious it is. I’m just a little concerned with how healthy we are right now,” said Sirko, whose team opens league play Friday at rival Basalt. “I was real pleased with how some of our young kids stepped up in the second half. We had four or five young kids who hadn’t been in that situation. They did a really nice job.”
Aspen looked like it was going to blow out the 1A Bulldogs with its fast start. The Skiers opened with an 8-play, 69-yard drive that Seguin capped with a 5-yard touchdown run off the right side.
The Skiers defense then held Hotchkiss on its opening three plays, forcing a punt that Seguin hauled in at Aspen’s 46-yard line before following sophomore teammate Nicky Ufkes all the way to the end zone.
Leading a sweep around the right side, Ufkes made a block at Hotchkiss’ 15-yard line that left Seguin untouched the rest of the way.
“It was definitely big right off the bat,” Seguin said. “It shows that we come ready to play. I don’t think it brought us down, but it definitely gave us an advantage throughout the game.”
Hotchkiss responded by turning the game over to its road-grading senior tailback Ethan Coe, who got the bulk of the work on an 8-play, 83-yard drive that ended with quarterback Ryan Spor diving in from two yards out.
The two teams then settled into a game of defense and field position. After trading punts, Aspen drove all the way down to the Bulldogs’ 20-yard line, but an Anderson Cole pass for VanDomelen fell incomplete on fourth down.
Hotchkiss seized the opportunity, converting a fourth-and-inches on its next possession to keep alive an 80-yard scoring drive that ended with a pitch out to Coe for an 8-yard touchdown.
Following a failed Hotchkiss 2-point conversion, Aspen came right back with a 6-play, 76 yard drive that included a nimble 45-yard run from Seguin on a delayed draw.
The Skiers’ 9-point lead at the half lasted for all of seven seconds in the third quarter. Hotchkiss senior Cody Richards took the second half kickoff from his own 3 and managed to squirt away from a traffic jam at the 20-yard line to go untouched from there. After a 2-point conversion, Aspen’s lead was cut one.
The Skiers extended that lead after Ufkes scored on 9-yard draw to finish off a 12-play, 64 yard drive. The defensive play of the game came late in the third quarter when Aspen’s Taylor Mayer hit Spor in the middle of a pitch and the ball hit the turf before Aspen’s Trevor Watson recovered.
Aspen came up with another big stop on fourth down on Hotchkiss’ next series, and on the very next play Seguin broke free for his third score of the game.
“We saw a lot of momentum swings,” Hotchkiss coach Zac Lemon said. “It seemed like their momentum carried them a little farther than ours carried us. They picked up a couple key third downs and we didn’t pick up a couple key third downs.”
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