Football: Aspen-Basalt rivalry game key to playoffs
The Aspen Times
Add more fuel to Friday night’s rivalry football game at Basalt.
This year, a possible playoff berth is on the line when the Skiers of Aspen High School head down Highway 82 for the annual rivalry matchup against the Basalt Longhorns.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Basalt High School.
An eighth consecutive postseason berth is on the line for the Skiers, who must win Friday night to have a chance to advance into the Class 2A football playoffs.
“We hope the momentum carries over this week,” Aspen head coach Ryan Triece said after the Skiers piled up a 34-14 victory over Moffat County last weekend at Aspen School District Stadium. “But we have new challenges every week.”
This week, for example, there are no classes at Aspen High School today and Friday.
“But you have to adapt,” Triece said of the disruption in routine for the high school student-athletes. The Aspen coaching staff is holding regularly scheduled practices with an eye on Friday night.
“It all comes down to coming out Friday and matching the intensity Basalt will have,” Triece said expecting the traditionally tough game with the Longhorns (1-3 in league, 2-6 overall). “That’s the message we’re sending. It’s the last regular-season game; it’s a rivalry game; it’s a chance for a winning record; it’s a chance to get in the playoffs. Everything is out there for them.”
The Skiers are 4-4 overall and 2-2 in the Western Slope North League.
The top 2A team in the conference will qualify for the state playoffs.
Right now, Battle Mountain leads the conference with a 4-0 league record. But the Huskies are a Class 3A team. They must win the 2A Western Slope North League outright to qualify for the 3A state playoffs.
Aspen, Coal Ridge and Moffat County all are 2-2 in conference as 2A schools. This week’s games will determine the 2A league winner.
In all, 16 Class 2A teams qualify for postseason. Top league teams and many conference runner-ups automatically qualify.
The remaining five positions in the bracket will be determined by wild-card points.
Currently, the Aspen Skiers are No. 20 in the Class 2A wild-card points, based on wins, losses, strength of schedule (in classifications), etc.
Moffat County (Craig) is at No. 23.
Coal Ridge (New Castle) is at No. 29.
Roaring Fork (1-3 in league) is at 33 in wild-card points. Basalt is at No. 34.
But the Longhorns could spoil Aspen’s possible playoff bid in Friday night’s showdown in Basalt.
Other key league games Friday include Moffat County at Carbondale to take on Roaring Fork, and Battle Mountain will travel to New Castle to take on Coal Ridge.
The outcomes of the Friday games will determine the final wild-card points for the 2A playoffs.
State seedings will be announced early next week with the 2A state playoffs opening Saturday, Nov. 1.
Triece said the Skiers will be closer to full strength Friday night, although they still are missing a few players with injury.
Tailback Ryan Fitzgerald, who gashed Moffat County for 176 yards last weekend, is back at practice as he recovers from a leg injury.
The Skiers will be without the services of all-conference kicker John Heaphey. The AHS senior will be playing for the Skiers in the state soccer playoffs on Friday afternoon in Englewood.
“That’s another challenge for us,” Triece said as the Skiers turn to alternative placekickers and punters for the league finale.
“We need to go out and play every play. We need to try to play a 48-minute game,” Triece said.
Statewide, Brush (8-0) continues to lead the Class 2A football poll by chsaa.now.
Kent Denver (8-0) is at No. 2.
Strasburg, a member of the new Frontier League, is No. 8, also at 8-0.
Lamar (7-1) is ranked No. 4 with Gunnison (7-1) of the Western Slope South League fifth.
Platte Valley (5-3), yet another Patriot League member, is sixth with Montezuma-Cortez (6-2) at No. 7. Cortez is playing down in 2A this year. The Panthers shut out Aspen in the first game of the season in Cortez.
At No. 8 in the CHSAA poll is Faith Christian (6-2) with St. Mary’s of Colorado Springs (6-2) at No. 9.
Eaton (6-2), also from the Patriot League, is ranked No. 10.
Kent Denver has already clinched first place in the Colorado League. Faith Christian has secured the second playoff spot from that league.
Strasburg and Bennett have secured the playoff berths from the Frontier League.
Lamar has clinched the Tri Peaks League title with La Junta also qualifying for the postseason from that conference.
Gunnison and Montezuma-Cortez have clinched berths from the Western Slope South.
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