Colbert’s Prep Playbook: Big week? Nah, gargantuan week ahead for fall teams
This just might be the biggest week of the fall sports season. With one season-defining event after another, it’s going to be a fun few days. We have state tennis, regionals for softball and cross country, as well as some gargantuan football games.
Let’s do a quick breakdown by sport and see what’s on tap this week. We’re down to only six sports with golf season having ended last week.
Aspen High School has all 11 players headed to the Class 4A state tournament, which begins Thursday in Pueblo. It was more dominance as usual at regionals last week in Grand Junction, with the Skiers winning six of seven tournaments. Hopefully a few of them will still be playing on Saturday, when the championship matches are scheduled.
The draws came out Monday and can be found here.
Christian Kelly, Alex Mosher and Liam Sunkel, all juniors, will represent the Skiers in singles play. AHS was seventh as a team last fall with all 11 players competing. Basalt, in only its second season as a varsity program, didn’t have anyone qualify for state.
As expected, Basalt will host its regional tournament on Saturday. The brackets were officially released Monday by CHSAA, and the Longhorns are seeded No. 2 in Class 3A among the 24 teams to qualify for regionals. BHS is 21-1 overall, the lone loss coming to a good Class 4A Conifer team by a single run. They are ranked No. 5 in the coaches/media poll (last updated Oct. 7), but are second in RPI, which determines seeding.
Joining Basalt at its regional will be No. 15 Lamar and No. 18 Peak to Peak. Those two will play at 10 a.m. on the BHS field, with Basalt playing the winner around 12:15 p.m. The Longhorns were one-and-done at regionals each of the past two years, but hosted as the No. 8 seed in 2016, rallying from a deficit in a must-win final contest against Gunnison to make the state tournament. Aspen’s softball season is officially over after not making it into a regional.
Speaking of regionals, Basalt is slated to host its Class 3A Region 1 cross country meet on Friday at Crown Mountain Park. The girls race is scheduled for 11 a.m. and the boys race at 11:45 a.m. The top four teams plus any runner who finishes in the top 15 will qualify for state, which is Oct. 26 in Colorado Springs.
Aspen hosted the regional last year, with both the boys and girls finishing third as a team to qualify for state. Basalt did not fare well as a team and only qualified one runner, that being Sierra Bower, who won the girls race. Bower, now a junior, should be the unquestioned favorite to win again. Both AHS and BHS will vie for the team title on the girls side. The boys will have to finish in that top-15 window to make it, as they won’t factor into the team competition.
Aspen kept its playoff hopes alive with a 28-0 win at Moffat last week. Next up is No. 1 Rifle on Friday night on the AHS turf and the Bears will likely come to town with revenge on their minds. Despite winning the Class 2A Western Slope League last fall, Rifle still had a single league loss, and that came at home against the Skiers, 20-19. It still remains one of the more surprising scores of the entire 2018 football season. Rifle, currently 6-0, looks better this year and just destroyed previously No. 2 Delta last week, 47-29. At 3-3 overall and 1-1 in WSL play, Aspen might need to pull off another shocker to remain in the postseason picture.
Speaking of Delta, the Panthers (5-1, 1-1) dropped to No. 5 in 2A this week and will host No. 7 Basalt (6-0, 2-0) on Friday night. The Longhorns continue to only get modest love from the voters despite having outscored opponents 199-33 on the season. They did drop from No. 1 to No. 3 in RPI this week, with Sterling and Resurrection Christian now in the top two spots. Should BHS beat Delta and Rifle beat Aspen, it would essentially create a 2A WSL championship game next week when the Bears visit the Longhorns.
VOLLEYBALL AND BOYS SOCCER
The stakes aren’t nearly has high here as with the other sports this week, although there is plenty of intrigue. Basalt volleyball travels to Aspen on Tuesday night in a bit of a must-win for both teams. Neither team has much hope of playing in the postseason, but the door isn’t entirely shut yet. I’d say the Longhorns are having a slightly better season than the Skiers this fall, but when the teams first played back on Sept. 19 in Basalt, it was Aspen that won, 3-1. According to my research after that game, the Longhorns haven’t beaten the Skiers since 2012, a stretch of 15 straight wins for AHS.
At 1-10 overall, it’s been a tough season for Aspen boys soccer, but the Skiers nearly got a massive result on Friday night, losing 3-2 in overtime to then No. 4 Roaring Fork. The Rams needed a PK as time was expired to avoid the draw. As of Monday afternoon, Aspen’s RPI was 50 and Basalt’s was 28. So, AHS making the state tournament probably won’t happen with only four games to go. Basalt, however, has a pretty good chance. Aspen’s only game this week is a Saturday trip to Middle Park, while Basalt plays Friday night at Roaring Fork (now No. 3 in 3A). Should BHS pull off the stunner it would be in line to maybe win the WSL.
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If all goes according to plan, graduation will serve as a grand opening of sorts for the school’s newest addition, a state-of-the-art videoboard and sound system for the football field.