Basalt football hosts surprising Salida on Saturday looking for first 2A playoff win
Trevor Reuss did not start last year’s playoff game, but he did everything he could to finish it.
When senior starting quarterback Miles Levy was knocked out of the Class 2A first-round home game against D’Evelyn, Reuss had to lead the Basalt High School football team’s rally in an eventual 27-20 loss.
“Overall, we didn’t lay down and we executed pretty well,” Reuss recalled this week after practice. “You never want to see your all-state quarterback go down, but I thought the team did a good job of picking themselves back up and rallying around it.”
Now a junior, Reuss will be asked to run the show start to finish Saturday when the Longhorns host Salida (7-2 overall) at 1 p.m. in the first round of the 2A playoffs. Basalt (8-1) is the No. 6 seed in the 16-team tournament, while Salida is No. 11.
The Longhorns are hoping to stick around a little longer this postseason.
“If we do our job, we should go pretty far,” BHS senior Raul Torres said. “We are a lot hungrier this year and we don’t want that same feeling as last year.”
Basalt has won back-to-back 2A Western Slope League titles after going more than 30 years without a league championship. The WSL crown gave the Longhorns the automatic bid into the postseason, the fourth trip to the playoffs in 10 years under coach Carl Frerichs.
When BHS made the playoffs in 2010 — a 40-21 first-round loss to Faith Christian — it was the Longhorns’ first postseason appearance in 27 years.
According to Frerichs, Basalt is still searching for its first Class 2A playoff win. He said BHS has only won a single playoff game in school history, and that came in 1979 in Class 1A.
With eight straight wins heading into Saturday’s game, there is belief Basalt will finally get that elusive victory.
“We have bigger expectations. This whole team has been pretty much dreaming about this since we were little,” Reuss said. “We came together as a team. We got that mentality of every time we step out on the field to give our hardest for each other.”
Basalt’s only loss this season came in zero week, a 34-14 defeat at Class 3A powerhouse Rifle. Other than a 41-33 win over Battle Mountain in Game 4, BHS has barely been tested since the opener. Its closest league game was a 48-22 win over Aspen, the tournament’s No. 12 seed.
“The way our kids have been playing,” Frerichs said, “if we take it really as another game instead of thinking we need to do something different than what we’ve been doing all season, that’s going to be huge on Saturday.”
Salida looks to play spoiler. The Spartans are in the playoffs for the first time since 2009 and have the most wins in a season since going 8-3 in 2006. The team was 2-7 in 2016.
Salida’s best win this season came in Game 2, a 30-22 win over Pagosa Springs, the tournament’s No. 13 seed. The Spartans two losses came against The Classical Academy (27-19) and defending state champion La Junta (39-16), both playoff teams.
Senior quarterback Bridger Russell has been effective through the air for Salida, throwing for 1,802 yards with 19 touchdowns and five interceptions. He is second on the team with 296 yards rushing. Senior tailback Cody Farney leads Salida on the ground with 787 yards and 11 touchdowns. Farney rushed for 221 yards in a regular-season ending 35-7 win over Lamar.
“Stopping their run game,” Torres said of the key to beating Salida. “I feel like we usually do that pretty well, but if we stop their running game, that’s the big thing we need to focus on.”
Offensively, Basalt just looks to keep doing what it’s been doing. Reuss has been quietly effective this season, throwing for 901 yards with nine touchdowns and only two interceptions. Senior tailback Noah Williams has been the mainstay, rushing for 1,232 yards and 25 touchdowns.
“Even if he wouldn’t have gone in during the playoff game, we knew Trevor had a lot of ability. He’s put in a lot of work,” Frerichs said. “Looks like they have a really good junior and senior class, just like us. We are going to need to be ready to play, because I know they are bringing their best efforts.”
The Basalt-Salida winner will play the winner of No. 3 Bayfield (9-0) versus No. 14 Elizabeth (6-3) in the second round. The game will be hosted by the highest remaining seed. Bayfield and Elizabeth also play at 1 p.m. Saturday.
David Stapleton is the development officer for the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club. A product of the club, AVSC sat down with Stapleton for a Q&A session in this week’s Clubhouse Chronicles.