Longhorns trample Bulldogs 47-0 for 2A WSL title, secure playoff berth
CRAIG — Bunches of snow is nothing Moffat County High School football players haven’t seen before, but that didn’t make Friday night’s game any less miserable.
The Bulldogs had their playoff hopes dashed for the second year in a row by the same team as Basalt High School trampled them, 47-0, to defend their status as the reigning 2A Western Slope League champions.
“The kids played really, really well. The weather by the fourth quarter was a full-on snowstorm. So we were happy the clock was running,” Basalt coach Carl Frerichs said. “We are really pleased with the way the kids are playing, but I was not expecting that to be honest.”
In keeping with Basalt’s 7-1 season, the night was another showcase for running back Noah Williams, who repeatedly pounded through and edged around the Moffat County defense, taking three touchdowns in the first quarter alone, all in the red zone, with the Longhorns leading 21-0 going into the second quarter.
A fierce wind that worked against them at the onset was working somewhat in the Bulldogs’ favor once they switched directions, but after a successful fake punt attempt in the first period, Alex Nevarez ran for it again and was promptly stuffed at the Dogs’ 22, and Basalt was able to punch it in quickly from there.
The uphill battle only grew tougher as Miki Klimper was forced to the sidelines after a hard hit on a Moffat County kick return. The Bulldogs punted after going three and out, but were able to force Basalt’s first boot when the Longhorns’ reverse to Griffen Jenkins gave them nothing on third and long.
Colby Beaver sailed it to Connor Etzler twice in row to finally make headway into Basalt territory, but the Longhorns stopped them at their 24. It took no time at all for Trevor Reuss to throw the long bomb to Jenkins, who weaved his way through defenders for a TD with more than half the field on the catch.
Rain was turning into sleet, which would turn into snow, as the 35-0 halftime scoreboard loomed large with the first half ending unceremoniously with Nevarez taken off the field after another fake punt and a pass to Basalt’s Juan Rosario falling just short.
Moffat County proved they still had gas in the tank early in the half, as Toryn Hume wrestled away the ball for a fumble recovery, yet little yardage from there flipped it right back, and Williams got the clock running with a counter play of about 25 yards, though a tenacious Bulldog line led by Hume blocked the PAT to keep it 41-0.
The Longhorns sealed it with one final touchdown in the fourth quarter, Jake Reardon sweeping wide for a run of about 30, and some unsportsmanlike conduct on both sides ensured the score would count, though the Dogs prevented the two-point conversion.
MCHS coach Keith Gille could only credit the Longhorns for a game well-played.
“They’re great up front, they’ve got good skill positions, and they’re well coached,” he said. “I’m disappointed we didn’t give them much of a contest.”
Basalt faces Roaring Fork at home on Friday to conclude the regular season before moving into a guaranteed 2A playoff slot. BHS is also all but guaranteed to host that first-round playoff game.
“We keep telling them our goal is not just getting into the playoffs. We want to do something in the playoffs this year,” Frerichs said. “All around team effort. Just really proud of the kids.”
At 4-4, Moffat County is all but out of postseason contention but can maintain a winning record for the year when they travel to Aspen next week.
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Buttermilk Ski Area already is scheduled to host the world’s best at ESPN’s X Games this coming week, while it was recently announced Aspen Highlands will host alpine skiing’s NorAm finals later this spring.