Basalt High football wraps up camp with a scrimmage on June 7 against Paonia
2018 Basalt football schedule*Indicates league game
Aug. 31 vs. Olathe
Sept. 7 at Battle Mountain
Sept. 14 vs. Pagosa Springs
Sept. 21 at Paonia
Sept. 29 at Moffat County*
Oct. 5 vs. Coal Ridge*
Oct. 12 vs. Delta*
Oct. 19 at Rifle*
Oct. 26 vs. Aspen*
The teams won’t keep score and there will be no winners or losers, but June 7’s scrimmage between the Basalt High School and Paonia football teams should be anything but light.
“It’s important to come out and not take it lightly, not mess around,” Basalt senior-to-be Jake Reardon said. “We need to come out like it’s a game and try our hardest, because that’s our time to get better.”
The scrimmage, which gets underway at 7 p.m. under the lights on the BHS football field and is open to the public, marks the end of their spring camp. This will be the last time the players get to practice in pads until fall practice officially begins Aug. 6.
“Another team is always going to bring it harder than your teammates in practice and that’s what we really want,” Basalt senior-to-be Goskany Luquin said. “Thursday night is just going to be a whole lot of fun with the lights and everybody here.”
There will be no special teams during the scrimmage and it will be almost exclusively varsity players. Action typically will be from the 40-yard-line and in with a goal-line series to finish out play. Expect both teams to take plenty of notes, as they’ll meet each other again during the regular season when Basalt travels to Paonia for a non-league game on Sept. 21.
The teams have met a few times during Carl Frerichs’ now 10-year tenure as head coach at Basalt, although the last regular-season meeting was back in 2013. In the season-opener that fall, Basalt lost 30-8 to the Eagles in what was a rough year for the Longhorns, finishing 2-7 overall. Paonia went on to win the Class 1A state championship that season, the first of back-to-back titles.
Paonia went 8-3 last year, the first time it failed to reach double-digit wins since that 2013 season.
“We are really stoked for Thursday’s scrimmage. We get to play under the lights, and we really miss that so we are looking forward to it,” Basalt senior-to-be Trevor Reuss said. “We want to build that team chemistry, get all the moving parts together. We do play them in the regular season, so it will give us a really good view of where we are at and what we can improve on.”
REBUILDING OR RELOADING?
Basalt is replacing many talented athletes from last year’s team, which went 9-2, won the Class 2A Western Slope League for the second consecutive season and won its first 2A playoff game in program history before bowing out in the second round to the eventual state champion, Bayfield.
Gone are three experienced offensive linemen, including Thomas Wirth, who recently signed to play with NCAA Division III Willamette University in Oregon. Also gone are standout receiver Griffen Jenkins, tight end/linebacker Raul Torres and one-hit wonder Noah Williams, the star running back who is headed to DII Fort Lewis.
“Defensively we return eight out of 11 starters. I’m really excited on that side of the ball,” Frerichs said. “Offensively they really are meshing together. We have some big shoes to fill up front but I think the kids can really step up and do a good job.”
Basalt does return plenty of talent, including Reuss, the team’s starting quarterback. Reardon looks to take over for Williams in the backfield and Luquin is likely to anchor the offensive and defensive lines, among others. The cupboard is hardly bare, but there are plenty of questions that need to be addressed before the Longhorns open the season Aug. 31 at home against Olathe.
“I am super excited. I’m confident in my abilities and I’m excited about a lot of new guys we have coming up for the O-line and I’m really excited to see what I can do,” Reardon said of replacing Williams, who rushed for 1,422 yards and 26 touchdowns in his lone season with Basalt. “I’m a really different build than Noah, and I’m a very different running style and a different kind of player than him. I’m trying to develop my own thing, but he was definitely a really good player for the program and if I can take after that and follow him then I’ll be set.”
The 2A WSL added two powerhouse programs for the next two seasons, meaning Basalt’s two-year reign at the top of the league will certainly be tested. Gone are Steamboat Springs and Roaring Fork, which opted to play junior varsity only next season. Filling their spots are Rifle and Delta, two of the strongest programs year in and year out on the Western Slope.
Aspen, Coal Ridge and Moffat County also return to fill out what will be a competitive six-team league.
“It’s just great to head into the summer knowing that we are capable of doing great things in the fall,” Basalt senior-to-be linebacker Tai Kim said. “We know everyone is gunning for us in the league. We know we are the target to take down, but we are just going to do what we have to do and we are going to take care of business.”