Football: Basalt pounds Coal Ridge, eyes playoff berth
BASALT – Longhorns quarterback Scotty Hoffman tucked the ball, followed his blockers and sprinted to the end zone. The senior’s 34-yard, fourth-quarter scamper sealed a win Friday night – and likely a long-awaited 2A playoff berth. Hoffman scored with 5 minutes, 5 seconds remaining to blow open what was a two-possession game against visiting Coal Ridge. Basalt tacked on one more touchdown against an anemic Titans squad, which turned the ball over seven times, and cruised to a 29-0 win in a pivotal Western Slope showdown.With the victory, Basalt improved to 6-3 overall, 4-2 in conference play and vaulted into third place in the Slope. More important, it picked up critical wild-card points that make it a virtual lock to make the postseason should it win Friday in Cedaredge.The Longhorns have not been to the playoffs in nearly three decades, according to sources.”If we take care of business [next week], I know we’ll be in,” Basalt head coach Carl Frerichs said. “I told the kids it’s fun to be in Game 9 and actually be playing for something instead of begging kids to come to practice.”It was a special night for us.”The night began with a critical stop on defense for the home team, as Coal Ridge (6-3, 4-2) marched right down the field on the game’s first possession. The Longhorns stood tall with their backs to their own end zone, however, stopping Titans running back Brent Hazzard on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line.Later, Basalt put together a long drive of its own, one that covered 63 yards in 13 plays and chewed up nearly 5 1/2 minutes. Hoffman capped it off with a score, connecting with receiver Carl Riggins for a 34-yard touchdown up the far sideline on the first play of the second quarter.Basalt converted one fourth down on the drive and also received some help; Hoffman fumbled the snap on an attempted punt and was driven to the turf by a Coal Ridge defender, who was whistled for a horse-collar tackle that gave the Longhorns a first down.”I couldn’t even see the ball. [The defenders’] hands were up,” Riggins joked of Hoffman’s pass. “I was just praying for the ball to land in my hands. Somehow, it did.”Later in the second quarter, tailback Zach Mobilian extended the Basalt lead. He took a hand-off, bounced outside, shed one tackler and rumbled 73 yards for a score.The junior finished with 152 yards on 30 carries and also picked off a pass in the second half.”I got a great block and had one guy to beat. I did,” Mobilian said. “Once you see the end zone, nothing’s stopping you.”We came out every play and worked our butts off. … We didn’t want to let those guys ruin our season.”While the Longhorns struggled at times on offense, their defense had no missteps all night. Basalt stifled a Titans squad that ran wild in a win over then-No. 1 Aspen last week.Coal Ridge turned the ball over twice and punted four times in six first-half possessions Friday. It fared no better in the second half, struggling to sustain drives or gain any yards on the ground or through the air.The Titans fumbled on their first two possessions of the third quarter; the latter was recovered by Riggins. After going three-and-out, Coal Ridge then had a snap on third-and-12 go over the quarterback’s head and roll through the end zone, resulting in a safety in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.”After Coal Ridge beat Aspen, we saw that [running back] Cody Walls had such a phenomenal game. We came in with a plan to control him,” Frerichs said. “I give our coaches and our players all the credit. … Our defense controlled the game all night.”After that first goal-line stand, we really had the momentum. That carried us.”The offense put things out of reach down the stretch. After Hoffman’s scoring run, Mobilian handed the ball right back to the offense with an acrobatic interception on the far sideline. Sam Morrison made the Titans pay, sprinting straight up the middle on third and long, cutting outside and outrunning defenders on a 64-yard race to the end zone.The celebration on the home sideline was under way.”This is our first good chance [of making the playoffs] in a long time,” Riggins said. “That was our one motivation. … We wanted this to be the year we finally did it.”With a win in the regular-season finale, the Longhorns likely are in.”We’re so excited,” Frerichs said. “A lot of kids have put in a lot of hard work to get here.”
Olathe prevailed in a battle of the 2A Western Slope’s top teams, dropping visiting Aspen, 24-14. The Skiers (7-2 overall, 4-2 conference), who were looking to regain possession of first place in the league after losing to Coal Ridge last week, trailed the Pirates by just five points at halftime. The state’s third-ranked team could pull no closer down the stretch, however.Aspen closes out the regular season at home Friday (7 p.m.) against Roaring Fork.Skiers head coach Mike Sirko did not return calls seeking comment, and statistics were not available by press time.
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Like most high school sports programs across the nation right now, Garfield County athletics directors are seeing fewer applicants for open coaching positions. Five years ago vacant positions were filled within just a couple of days.