Football: Aspen to face Grand Valley for homecoming
The Aspen High School football team will find out for sure at 7 p.m. today when it hosts Grand Valley at the AHS athletic field, but the general consensus among players seems to be their experiential education week will pay off on the field.
“I think it’s good, personally. I think it helps us take a break, have some fun, and then come back and get ready to finish the season off,” junior lineman Robbie Francis said. “We’ve done pretty well with it, but it’s been difficult and we’ve had to adjust back. Especially with homecoming this week — there are extra distractions. I think we’ve done well, but it’s taken a little extra.”
The Skiers (1-2) haven’t played since a 42-8 home loss to Cedaredge on Sept. 9. Prior to that, Aspen beat Arvada, 16-12, and lost in Zero Week at Middle Park, 22-14.
Grand Valley is 2-1; the most recent win a 41-6 romp against Roaring Fork last week. Its lone loss came Sept. 9 when it fell 49-7 to Basalt a week after beating Vail Christian, 46-6, in the season opener.
Friday’s game against Grand Valley will be homecoming for the Skiers, something that can both distract and provide extra motivation with a packed house expected.
“It’s definitely getting us excited,” junior lineman Finn Allen said of homecoming. “It’s definitely a big deal because it’s usually our biggest crowd of the year. Most of the community is out there. We want to win in front of them. The support is awesome.”
It also will be the final non-league game of the regular season for the Skiers, with Class 2A Western Slope league opponent Coal Ridge coming to Aspen on Sept. 30.
There is a big difference between being 1-3 and 2-2, and Aspen coach Karson Pike hopes to get the Skiers away from their roller coaster-esque first month.
“This really sets the tone for our second season,” Pike said. “They understand the importance of homecoming and the excitement around it. There are a lot of guys that are excited and hungry after that Cedaredge game.”
Pike said Grand Valley is in many cases a mirror image of Aspen. Both teams run an even-man front on defense and play a similar style spread offense. This has allowed Aspen to focus on itself this week in practice, knowing it should be plenty familiar with whatever the Cardinals throw its way.
Mostly, the Skiers want to eliminate the silly mistakes that have proved costly in their two losses.
“We play really well and then we give up a big play. Or we have a big play, and then we make a mistake,” Francis said. “We really want to win this game, so we are going to put everything we got out on the field and we hope to win because it’s a great opportunity to move forward into league play.”
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The third weekend of play begins Thursday and runs through Sunday with the Bantam B, Squirt A and Squirt B divisions. Because of safety protocols, spectators aren’t allowed.