Basalt High football heads to Olathe on Friday for 2019 season opener |

Basalt High football heads to Olathe on Friday for 2019 season opener


Sept. 6 at Olathe

Sept. 14 vs. Battle Mountain

Sept. 20 at Pagosa Springs

Sept. 27 vs. Paonia

Oct. 4 vs. Moffat County*

Oct. 11 at Coal Ridge*

Oct. 18 at Delta*

Oct. 25 vs. Rifle*

Nov. 1 at Aspen*

*league game

Being the underdog used to be commonplace, but a lot has changed for the Basalt High School football program over the past three seasons. The Longhorns keep rewriting their record book, having won 25 games over that span, including back-to-back 9-2 seasons.

Yet, the outside hype isn’t quite there for the 2019 team compared to some of its Class 2A Western Slope League foes. Basalt is replacing more key pieces than some of its WSL opponents, but that doesn’t seem to be fazing any of the players in purple.

“I don’t think we at all feel like underdogs,” senior center Daniel Sherry said. “I feel like we are still in the same place that we were at the end of last year. Still feeling pretty good.”

The Longhorns open their season Friday night at Class 1A Olathe (0-1), which won a pair of 2A state championships under longtime coach Ryan Corn (2008 and 2010). The Pirates haven’t been quite as intimidating in recent years, winning no more than five games in a season since a 6-4 campaign in 2013. Basalt opened the season against Olathe at home last year, winning 28-0.

The Pirates lost 35-14 at Coal Ridge, one of Basalt’s WSL opponents, in their season opener last week. When Olathe sees the Longhorns on Friday, it’ll be against a group with a new backfield, notably at quarterback, but a group that has repeatedly found a way to reload instead of rebuild in recent years.

“The kids have been working their tails off,” longtime BHS coach Carl Frerichs said. “I think that’s a huge part of sustaining success, and we really feel like if these kids keep working hard in the classroom, keep working hard on the field, that we have no reason we shouldn’t be able to keep our success going.”

Making his first career start at quarterback will be BHS junior Matty Gillis, who replaces two-year starter Trevor Reuss. As a senior last season, Reuss threw for 1,035 yards and seven touchdowns with eight interceptions. Hardly gaudy numbers, he also rushed for 288 yards and nine scores and was the team’s unquestioned offensive leader.

Basalt also graduated workhorse running back Jake Reardon, who ran for 1,561 yards and 15 touchdowns. Taking over will be a combo of sophomores Cole Dombrowski and Gavin Webb, neither of who have significant varsity experience. The absence of fullback and linebacker Tai Kim, another graduate from last year’s team, also will be felt.

Still, the BHS football program has done nothing but win over the past three seasons, and this year’s group feels it can carry on that tradition.

“Every year the older kids show the younger kids that it’s a brotherhood and we all need to work together,” senior tight end/linebacker Tristan Johnston said. “By the time the seniors leave, everyone gets that and it carries over.”

The Longhorns open the season just outside the top 10 — they are effectively No. 14 in 2A this week. However, the 2A WSL is expected to be one of the best leagues in the state, with Rifle (No. 4), Delta (No. 5) and Aspen (No. 7) sitting comfortably in the early-season rankings. Rifle, which beat Grand Valley 47-7 in its opener last week, is the defending WSL champion.

The cupboard is hardly empty for BHS this season, as it did bring back star wideout Jackson Rapaport and lineman Ernesto Lopez, who is a game-changer on the defensive side. Also, while the Longhorns did graduate most of their line from a year ago, they simply replaced those names with more seniors.

“We are probably not as big up front as we were last year, but that doesn’t mean we are not as quick or as aggressive,” Frerichs said. “We have six seniors returning and they are all starting and five of the six are the ones up front. So it’s kind of nice when your older kids are the ones up front and the leaders of the team. They are excited for their time.”

Basalt’s home opener will be Saturday, Sept. 14, against Battle Mountain. Aspen opens its season this Saturday, Sept. 7, against 2017 state champion Bayfield.


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