Basalt lets one more get away
The play that defined the season?Unfortunately for Basalt’s football team it was a fumble at the end of the first half Friday night at Hotchkiss that accounted for a 14-point swing and was the crushing blow in a 26-20 loss.Up 13-6 and on Hotchkiss’ 19-yard line, Basalt tailback Tony DiBacco was hit and fumbled; a Hotchkiss player picked up the ball and returned it 70 yards before being dragged down by Basalt quarterback Tucker Hinchliffe.The Bulldogs went on to punch in a touchdown and tie the game at 13. The Bulldogs then took that momentum and went up by two touchdowns in the second half before Basalt’s scored again with about eight minutes remaining in the game.Really, it was just that kind of year for the Longhorns, who finished the season 3-6 overall and 3-4 in the 3A Western Slope.Included in those six losses was a one-touchdown defeat in a shootout against Meeker to open the season, and two frustrating losses to league powers Olathe and Roaring Fork in consecutive weeks. Basalt trailed Olathe 12-7 late in the third quarter and was down to the Rams 13-7 through three quarters in Carbondale. Olathe exploded in the fourth quarter to win 34-7 while the Rams scored twice in the final 12 minutes for a 26-7 victory.”Definitely a great season in terms of being very competitive,” Basalt coach Forrest Grosh said. “There wasn’t a game that we showed up to and I didn’t think we could compete… We had a shot to go the playoffs, but it just didn’t go our way. It was kind of a rollercoaster of a season.”The loss to the Bulldogs left the Longhorns with the same league mark as Aspen and Hotchkiss. Basalt rolled over Aspen, 27-8, on Sept. 15, while Aspen knocked off Hotchkiss, 24-14, in its homecoming game on Oct. 13. Because guaranteed all-league selections are based on a team’s league finish, the Longhorns were officially the fourth-place team in the 3A Slope according to tiebreaker rules, Grosh said. Hotchkiss was fifth and Aspen finished sixth.Roaring Fork, Gunnison and Olathe all finished with league records of 6-1 to earn the three playoff spots out of the 3A Slope. “If you want to get technical with the points, we were the fourth-place team,” Grosh said. “But it shouldn’t have come down to that. Hotchkiss is a team we could have beat and should have beat. We just didn’t execute.”Junior fullback Willy Klein capped Basalt’s first scoring drive with a goal-line plunge early in the first quarter. Longhorns senior wide receiver Chris Fitzgerald turned a short screen into a 50-yard touchdown on Basalt’s next possession to put his team up, 13-0.On the ensuing kickoff, Hotchkiss jumped right back in the game with a 60-yard return that set up the Bulldogs’ first score and cut the ‘Horns lead to 13-6 at the end of the first quarter.Reserve senior tailback Colin Matheney punched in Basalt’s final touchdown with about eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter. The ‘Horns offense got the ball back with less than a minute remaining and no timeouts, but was unable to move the down the field.Basalt loses a talented senior class of 14 that includes the backfield of Hinchliffe, DiBacco, and Matheney and receivers Ryan Gawrys, Rory Johnson and Fitzgerald. Despite the tough finish to the season, Grosh remains optimistic about the future of the program.”We’ll miss some guys on the team this year, especially on offense, but that’s how it goes,” he said. “On the defensive side of the ball, we only had four senior starters. We’ve got a lot of guys coming back on that side of the ball. We have a lot of young talent that will have to step up next year.”Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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