Basalt football set to host No. 1 Rifle, Skiers head to Coal Ridge in must-win
The Aspen High School football team had its shot at top-ranked Rifle last week and lost in a landslide. Now, Basalt will get its shot at the undefeated Bears when the teams face-off at 7 p.m. Friday on the BHS field.
“You have to give a lot of credit to coach (Damon) Wells and his coaching staff,” Basalt coach Carl Frerichs said of Rifle. “We use Rifle as an example, whether it’s in spring ball or summer stuff, we use them all the time because they are so disciplined and their ball fakes are just at another level.”
Basalt (6-1 overall, 2-1 Western Slope League), ranked No. 8 in Class 2A this week, is coming off its first loss of the season, a 35-6 defeat at current-No. 4 Delta. The Panthers are 6-1 (2-1 WSL) with their lone loss coming against Rifle on Oct. 11.
At 7-0 and a perfect 3-0 in league play, the Bears have simply been on another level this season, outscoring opponents 300-68, including last week’s shutout of Aspen. The Rifle program has long been a powerhouse under Wells, many of those wins coming when the team was in Class 3A. They joined the current 2A WSL only last season and went on to win the league championship.
“Rifle is that good,” AHS coach Travis Benson said. “It’s a really good football team that Rifle has. Maybe one of the top I’ve seen. It’s the little things you probably don’t see. It’s the things you look at as a coach.”
Aspen (3-4, 1-2) is fighting for its playoff life this week with a trip to Coal Ridge (1-6, 0-3) on Friday night. No. 16 this week in the rating percentage index (RPI), which determines postseason seeding, the Skiers still have a shot at the postseason, but will likely need to win their final two games. After the Titans, AHS will host Basalt next week in the regular-season finale.
“It’s a very real possibility,” Benson said of the 2A WSL again getting four teams into the playoffs. “Our conference is the top in the state, and that should be taken into account, for sure.”
Basalt’s RPI is No. 7 in the state this week, giving it a bit more leeway to make the 16-team playoff bracket. Delta is No. 6 while Rifle is No. 3, behind No. 2 Resurrection Christian and No. 1 Sterling, both of which are 6-1 overall. According to the RPI, Rifle is the only 2A football team still undefeated on the season.
“Hats off to their coaching staff. What a program he has,” Frerichs said of Wells and Rifle. “It’s new kids every year, but they come right at you with that super physical run game and really disciplined defense. We are going to have to make sure we bring our ‘A’ game and be ready to play.”
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The winter prep season is upon us. But before we look toward this year, let’s flashback to last winter and recap what happened between the Aspen and Basalt teams. The 2020-21 winter seasons were overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic, with shortened schedules and cancellations.