Football: Aspen High snaps skid, beats Arvada in home opener
The Aspen High School football team wanted to start fast against Arvada in its home opener Friday, something it didn’t do in a 22-14 loss at Middle Park to open the season last week.
Well, that didn’t happen, and the Skiers were forced to battle back from behind yet again. Unlike a week ago, Aspen found a way to complete the comeback and held off the Bulldogs for a 16-12 win, snapping an eight-game losing streak dating back to the second game of the 2015 season.
“It feels great. I’m really happy for our kids,” said first-year Aspen coach Karson Pike, who won his first career game Friday as a head coach. “They haven’t tasted a lot of that, and you can see it in their eyes right here what it means to finally be successful. For that, I’m pretty excited.”
It was far from a masterpiece, but for a team that hasn’t won a game in nearly a year, it’s a major step in the right direction. Junior quarterback R.J. Peshek was a workhorse, sophomore receivers Noah Hollander and Ben Appleby made huge plays and the defense stepped up to make big stops when needed.
Both offenses moved the ball from the start, but big mistakes continued to bring those drives to premature ends. Early in the second quarter, Arvada broke the ice with a wild 37-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ian Fonseca to receiver Deondre Gordon, and a blocked extra point kept it at 6-0.
“The same thing happened last weekend. We just got off to a slow start. But we inched our way back,” Peshek said. “Turns out we played pretty well, grinded through the whole game and finished strong.”
Aspen led 8-6 at halftime thanks to a 1-yard touchdown run by Peshek late in the half, set up by a 29-yard pass on fourth and long from Peshek to Appleby. Peshek and Appleby also connected on the 2-point conversion.
The lead stretched to 16-6 late in the third quarter when Aspen went 46 yards in two plays. The drive started with a 30-yard completion from Peshek to Hollander, and the duo connected again a play later for a 16-yard score. Freshman running back Trey Fabrocini’s conversion gave Aspen the 10-point edge.
Mistakes nearly proved costly for the Skiers, in particular continuous bad snaps. One of these snaps came on a punt attempt and set Arvada up with a short field, which they capitalized on with a short touchdown run to make it 16-12 with about four minutes to play.
The Bulldogs would not get the ball back, however; a series of runs by Aspen led to a pair of Peshek knees.
“We’re close. We are really close. It’s a couple big plays, and then a big play the other way,” Pike said. “Those are drive killers and tempo killers when you move fast. A lot to clean up, but a lot to be proud of.”
Aspen (1-1) will host Cedaredge next week. The Bruins defeated Monte Vista 23-10 in their season-opener Friday.
The Basalt High School football team (0-1) was off this week. The Longhorns travel to Grand Valley next week.
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