Basalt vs. Delta, Aspen at Rifle highlight big week for WSL football

Basalt senior running back Jake Reardon carries the ball in the first half against Coal Ridge on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018 in Basalt.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

As difficult as it is to make the Class 2A playoffs in football, Delta High School finds itself backed against a wall. But, much like a wild animal, this could make the Panthers even more dangerous, and this is something Basalt understands.

“I’m sure they are looking at it as they need this win to go to the playoffs,” BHS coach Carl Frerichs said, “just like we are looking at it in if we want to control our own destiny, we need to make sure we are taking care of business, as well.”

The Longhorns and the Panthers will meet at 7 p.m. tonight in Basalt with a whole lot on the line. No. 6 Basalt is a perfect 6-0 overall and 2-0 in WSL play. No. 10 Delta is 4-2 and 1-1, its league loss coming last week at No. 3 Rifle, 34-7.

Basalt and Rifle are tied atop the WSL standings and are set to face either other next week, in Rifle, for what could be the de facto league championship game. The Bears first have to get by Aspen (4-2, 1-1) in Friday’s 7 p.m. game, also in Rifle.

Coal Ridge (1-5, 0-2) and Moffat County (2-4, 0-2) are bringing up the rear of the league right now. They also play Friday night.

“I have an older team, mostly seniors, and they realize how important this game is and we need to be ready,” Frerichs said of the matchup with Delta. “They are a top-10 team, and they look like that on film. We are going to have to play assignment football and take care of the ball and really have some plays go our way, because they definitely look tough on film.”

Like Rifle, Delta is a newcomer to the 2A WSL this season. Basalt and Delta played each of the past two seasons, BHS losing 42-7 two years ago in Delta before winning 35-7 last fall in Basalt. However, both of those games were non-league and early season, giving this year’s matchup a much different feeling.

Basalt enters tonight’s game riding its dominant defense, which has four shutouts in six games, including last week’s 34-0 homecoming rout of Coal Ridge. The Longhorns have only allowed 19 points this season.

Under longtime coach Ben Johnson, Delta continues to run a version of its vaunted wing-T offense. Sophomore quarterback Nolan Bynum has proven to be a solid passer, throwing for 707 yards with nine touchdowns and only a single interception. Junior Cody Suave does most of the running, as he has a team-high 432 yards on the ground.

“A lot of our varsity kids haven’t seen a whole lot of their varsity kids, but in terms of film and in terms of scheme, not a lot has changed with that,” Frerichs said. “I do think it’s an advantage for us and Delta that we both played each other the last two years in non-league. It’s not like we are brand new to each other’s schemes or who is on the team or anything like that. There won’t be any huge surprises in terms of what is going on.”

While the stars are aligning for Basalt and Rifle to tango for the league title, both Delta and Aspen could play spoiler. The Skiers lead the league in points — 239 on the season — although they face a Rifle team tonight that is just behind them with 230 points. The biggest difference is defense, with Aspen having allowed 130 points on the season and Rifle only 50, which is second in the league to only Basalt.

Should the Skiers pull the upset over Rifle and stay in the WSL race, Aspen would have Coal Ridge for homecoming next week and a trip to Basalt in the regular-season finale to go.

In the all-important RPI, which determines postseason seeding, Basalt is No. 1 in 2A this week, Rifle is No. 5, Delta is No. 9 and Aspen is No. 14.