Basalt football beats Aspen, 27-6, denies Skiers Western Slope championship
Coming off its first loss of the season, the Basalt High School football team wanted to bounce back against Aspen with the playoffs looming. The Longhorns did just that with another masterful defensive showing and yet another big game from senior running back Jake Reardon to roll to a 27-6 home win Friday over their upvalley rivals.
“It was really important,” Reardon said. “We need to show we are tough and can’t dwell in the past. This is going to hopefully catapult us with some positive momentum into the playoffs.”
Reardon rushed for nearly 200 yards and had three touchdowns, all in the second half, to deny the Skiers their first league title since the 1970s. An Aspen win Friday would have given it the Class 2A Western Slope League championship, but instead the WSL crown went to Rifle after it beat Moffat County, 52-26, on Friday in the regular-season finale.
Rifle (8-1 overall, 4-1 WSL) won the title over Basalt (8-1, 4-1) because of its head-to-head win, a 35-14 victory for the Bears on Oct. 19 in Rifle. Rifle’s only loss came Oct. 12 against Aspen, 20-19.
“Being tied with Rifle at the top of our league, where we are going to have four teams in the playoffs, I give credit to my kids,” BHS coach Carl Frerichs said. “Even in Rifle, like I said, we honestly played pretty well. Our defensive line played phenomenal. Our offensive line had a little bit of a hard time with Rifle, but they bounced back.”
Basalt, which has shutout five opponents this season, used its outstanding defense to get going against Aspen on Friday. On the first offensive play from scrimmage, Aspen sophomore quarterback Tyler Ward lost the ball and Basalt junior Ernesto Lopez picked it up for an early 7-0 lead.
“He scooped it up and scored. The big man got in,” BHS senior lineman Goskany Luquin said. “When you have a reputation of defense and making turnovers, starting off with a scoop and score is electric and gets everyone fired up.”
Aspen’s one big offensive play came late in the first quarter when Ward connected with junior Max Ufkes from about 50 yards, a failed 2-point conversion making it 7-6 in favor of Basalt.
Aspen also got the ball down to about the Basalt 2-yard line, but couldn’t score as time expired in the first half. The score remained 7-6 at halftime.
“We got wore down a little bit,” AHS coach Travis Benson said. “They are a good, strong team. At the end, when you have to play defense that much, you get worn down.”
Reardon went off in the second half. He scored from 18 yards out midway through the third quarter to extend the Basalt lead to 13-6, then ran one in from about 11 yards only a few minutes later to make it 21-6, which was the score after three quarters.
Basalt’s defense sacked Ward numerous times during the game and kept the electric Aspen offense in check outside of its one long touchdown pass.
“I’m proud of the kids,” Benson said. “I don’t fault the offense at all. The hard part about spread is sometimes you’re on and sometimes you’re off. We were just out of rhythm tonight.”
Reardon capped off his night with a 35-yard touchdown run with about seven minutes to play.
“Everyone is just ecstatic that we beat Aspen,” Reardon said. “We were just adjusting to what they were doing. Again, the O-line did a really good job of getting around and getting those blocks for me.”
Now the question for both teams is what comes next. Basalt is safely in the 2A playoffs, with the brackets expected out Sunday. The Longhorns, which had an RPI of 5 entering Friday’s game, still have an outside shot of hosting a first-round game.
Aspen, which had an RPI of 11 prior to the Basalt loss, hopes its 6-3 record (3-2 WSL) will be enough to get into the 16-team postseason. The Skiers would play on the road for the first round if they do get in.
“There is a good possibility. I would be shocked and a little bit upset to see if it didn’t fall that way,” Benson said of making the playoffs. “Western Slope League is a very strong league and it’s nice to see the strength.”
Delta (6-3, 3-2) could also make the playoffs out of the league; the Panthers beat Coal Ridge 47-6 Friday to secure third place in the WSL due to their head-to-head win over the Skiers. Delta was RPI No. 9 prior to Friday’s games.
Let’s make some skiing predictions. I made my X Games snowboarding predictions a day earlier and remain only mildly lukewarm in terms of confidence, but maybe I’ll feel better about the skiers.