Football: Aspen Skiers’ playoff hopes on the line
The Aspen Times
Possible playoff berth on the line.
Final home game of the season.
Chance to finish with a winning record.
“There’s a lot to play for certainly,” Aspen High School head football coach Ryan Triece said this week as the Skiers prepared for tonight’s key Western Slope North League game against Moffat County.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on senior night at Aspen School District Stadium.
“We’re still battling those injuries and some illness,” Triece said as he continues to lead a roster decimated by midseason injuries.
Plus, he said, this week several players missed practices because of sickness.
“We had three (starting) linemen out one day,” Triece said.
He said the Skiers continue to provide solid effort, but the continuity is affected by limited practices.
The Skiers are coming off back-to-back close losses. But in the balanced Western Slope North League, the Skiers can play their way into the playoffs with victories in their final two regular-season games.
Aspen (1-2 in league, 3-4 overall) will host Moffat County (2-1 in league, 3-4 overall) this week before closing the regular season at Basalt (1-2, 2-5).
The Longhorns are scheduled to play at league-leading Battle Mountain (3-0, 4-2) on Friday night.
Battle Mountain, as a 3A school playing down to 2A, must win the league to qualify for the 2A state playoffs.
That leaves Moffat County atop the 3A teams in the conference with a 2-1 mark.
Aspen, Basalt, Coal Ridge and Roaring Fork all are 1-2 in league with their playoff fate in their own hands.
Triece said Aspen senior tailback Ryan Fitzgerald may not play Friday night against Moffat County.
He’s battled a lower leg injury for most of the season.
“He’s tough. He’s been trying to play the last couple weeks. But he’s nowhere near 100 percent. It doesn’t look good for him this week,” Triece said.
Fellow tailback Matt Gregory also suffered an injury and is likely out for the rest of the season, according to Triece.
“We worked Nick Morgan in there,” the Aspen coach said of the latest Skiers’ tailback.
“He does run hard,” Triece said, adding that Harry Ferguson likely will see more touches this week.
He said Moffat County is coming off two huge wins — 49-6 over Basalt and 34-0 over Coal Ridge.
“This will be a game of who wins the line of scrimmage,” Triece said, adding that the game is an opportunity to recognize the Aspen seniors.
“The seniors have given a lot to this program,” he said of an AHS football team that has qualified for the state playoffs seven consecutive years.
The Skiers, chasing an eighth straight playoff appearance, are coming off a 21-11 loss to league-leading Battle Mountain.
As in the previous week’s 12-10 loss to Coal Ridge, turnovers and penalties worked against the Skiers.
“We have to execute,” Triece said. “That’s it. And yes, there’s a ton to play for.”
On Aug. 6, past and present members of the Vail Rugby Club gathered on the iconic Ford Field pitch to celebrate its 50th anniversary with a match against the Gentlemen of Aspen.
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