Football: Playoffs on line in Aspen-Basalt rivalry
The Aspen Times
The annual Aspen-Basalt high school football rivalry has an added twist again this year — the playoffs.
The Basalt High School football team powered into playoff contention with back-to-back victories in the Western Slope North League, including last weekend’s 20-10 win over Battle Mountain.
The previous week, the Longhorns scored a tense 21-17 win over Roaring Fork. The victories boosted the BHS football team to 4-4 on the season, 3-1 in conference.
More importantly, the Longhorns moved up in the list of Class 2A wild-card points. They’re currently at No. 16 heading into the last week of the regular season.
The Longhorns will travel up Highway 82 for a Friday night showdown against the Skiers at Aspen School District Stadium. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m.
A victory likely will send the Longhorns into the Class 2A state playoffs as one of 16 playoff teams.
The situation was reversed a year ago when the Aspen Skiers were on the brink of the playoffs. But Basalt spoiled the state-playoff hopes of the Skiers and ended Aspen’s six-year stretch of postseason play.
This year, Aspen (2-6, 0-4 in league) is in the spoiler’s role in the traditional end-of-season rivalry game in the upper Roaring fork Valley.
“This game is huge,” Basalt head coach Carl Frerichs said. “It’s a rivalry game. You can throw out the records.”
He said the game will come down to execution, turnovers and big plays.
“This is a good group,” Frerichs said. “Good kids who are working hard.”
He said the youthful Basalt line has matured and followed the leadership of the upperclassmen. Many of the current BHS juniors started as sophomores last year, he said.
Offensively, the Longhorns offer the dual-threat offense of the passing of quarterback Miles Levy and the running of a fleet of running backs, including Ian Lumsden, Alex Alberto and Raul Torres.
Levy is the leading passer in the Western Slope North with 664 yards this season.
Lumsden is the third-leading rusher in the conference.
“Our offensive line is getting off the ball. We’ve gotten better every game,” Frerichs said.
The Longhorns will take on a rejuvenated Aspen High School team that experienced a coaching change three weeks ago.
Longtime assistant Chris Peshek has taken over as the head coach, and the Skiers responded with their best half of football last weekend in the opening half at league-leader Moffat County.
Peshek’s been around the Aspen-Basalt rivalry for more than a decade.
“The (Aspen) kids know how big this game is,” Peshek said. “They’re gearing up for this.”
He said the Skiers will try to go out and win the little battles against Basalt on Friday night.
“You have to win the little battles, and then build up,” Peshek said, adding that he has the utmost respect for coach Carl Frerichs and the Basalt football program.
“Carl’s a great coach. He’s done wonderful things with the kids there,” Peshek said.
He added that the Skiers are excited to have a home game to wrap up a difficult season.
Aspen’s Nik Morgan enters the Friday night finale as the leading rusher in the Western Slope North with 543 yards.
Teammate Jake Ferlisi is the leading tackler in the conference.
A big crowd is anticipated again this year for the Aspen-Basalt football rivalry.
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The Aspen Rec Center is beginning to reopen for indoor use after the coronavirus pandemic effectively put a bolt on the door in March. The ARC staff hopes to have the facility — or at least most of it — open to its members as soon as Oct. 5.