Basalt and Bayfield expect defensive showdown in Saturday’s 2A quarterfinals
In Saturday’s 28-22 win over Salida in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs, the Basalt High School football team had to do something it hadn’t for most of the season.
“The great thing Saturday did for us is it put us in a game where we had to compete for four quarters,” Basalt coach Carl Frerichs said. “We really saw some things we need to work on and we’ve been really focusing on ourselves this week.”
The first-round win provided the Longhorns with their first real challenge in weeks, a test they needed considering what looms this weekend. Saturday, No. 6 seed Basalt (9-1 overall) travels to No. 3 seed Bayfield (10-0) in a 2A quarterfinal game. Bayfield is only two years removed from a state championship, while Basalt is in the 2A second round for the first time in school history.
“It’s definitely new, but it’s definitely very exciting. We are not going to back down. We are not scared of anyone,” Basalt senior lineman Oswaldo Morales said. “All I’m thinking right now is we have to show up and compete. We’ve done everything we’ve had to do up to this point. We’ve practiced all week hard and we are focused. It’s time to show up and give it our best shot.”
Basalt and Bayfield aren’t strangers, but it’s been a few years since they met on the field. The teams were briefly in the same league for the 2012 and 2013 seasons, with the Wolverines winning both of those matchups. Those two seasons coincided with Bayfield’s first two seasons under coach Gary Heide.
Bayfield won the 2012 matchup 42-0, a year in which it went 11-1 overall and made the 2A semifinals. Basalt went 6-4 in 2012 and lost to Florence in the first round of the playoffs. In 2013, Bayfield won, 8-6. Neither team made the playoffs that season.
“He’s done a fabulous job. You can see on film they are really well coached,” Heide said Wednesday of Frerichs, who is in his 10th year leading Basalt. “I remember him saying six years ago he wished he could get more kids out for football, because he thought he had a lot of athletes walking the hallways. Well, congratulations to him. Obviously he’s got them on the football field, now. They’ve got a great, fine team.”
What stands out about Bayfield this season is its defense. In 10 games, the Wolverines have six shutouts, including in each of the last three games. They’ve allowed a combined 15 points the past six contests and have outscored opponents 410-49 this season.
“We are going to have to fire off the ball, most importantly,” Morales said of getting the Basalt offense moving. “A lot of teams who have played them haven’t been too confident off the ball.”
Basalt will certainly look to ride senior running back Noah Williams, who has rushed for 1,390 yards — which is second in 2A — and 26 touchdowns this season. Heide, who also coaches track and field, remembers Williams’ speed as a sprinter last spring when he competed at the state meet. Although, Heide also said his defense can’t ignore the rest of Basalt’s offensive weapons.
“The quarterback is great at doing the play action and throwing. You can’t just sit there and try to take away their tailback No. 4 all the time,” Heide said. “It’s going to be a defensive game to begin with. I think Noah Williams is a little different than any 1,000-yard rusher we’ve faced in that he’s got speed.”
Basalt’s defense will have its hands full as well. Bayfield has rushed for a collective 2,549 yards this season. Senior Carl Heide, one of the coach’s two twin sons playing on the team, leads the team with 822 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. Junior quarterback Hayden Farmer balances out the offense with his 1,639 yards passing and 25:9 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
“They are tough. They play hard. They play fast. It’ll be a great matchup,” Basalt senior receiver/defensive back Griffen Jenkins said. “You can’t take plays off in big games. I think that’s what makes a great team, is being able to go out there and give everything you have every single play.”
Saturday’s game kicks off at 11 a.m. in Bayfield. Basalt planned to leave Friday morning for what Frerichs expects to be about a nine-hour drive, with stops. The team was taking a roundabout route through Utah to reach the small town about 20 miles east of Durango.
“The biggest difference for us will be traveling, but I know these guys and I know they’ll handle it well so I’m not too worried,” Jenkins added. “We are ready. Good week of practice, good focus all week. But it will be good to get down there and get ready to play.”
The winner will face either No. 7 seed Faith Christian or No. 15 seed Resurrection Christian in the 2A semifinals. Based off seeding and Basalt being on the road this week, Frerichs said the Longhorns would get to host the semifinal game, should they find a way past the stingy Bayfield defense.
“It’s going to be a real hard-fought, close defensive battle, at least to begin with,” Heide said. “I think the team that can play the most solid defense in the first part of the game can kind of establish themselves.”
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