Skiers beat Hotchkiss, 49-20 |

Skiers beat Hotchkiss, 49-20

HOTCHKISS, Colo. No more sugarcoating.After going on the road Friday night and thumping Hotchkiss, 49-20, first-year Aspen football coach Mike Sirko was concise in his post-game speech, alerting his players that one more win will secure Aspen its first league title since 1974.To win the 2A Western Slope, and an automatic berth to the postseason, all Aspen has to do is beat Gunnison next Friday. After a win over Cedaredge, Gunnison is tied with Aspen atop the league standings at 5-0.”We haven’t lied to the kids all season,” said Aspen defensive coordinator Ruben Burbach. “We went ahead and told them that this Gunnison game will win the league title. It’s one game and it’s over.”To improve to 6-1, Aspen stuck to basics against Hotchkiss, controlling time of possession with a bruising rushing attack and playing stingy defense.Senior tailback Tucker Eason rushed for four scores, sophomore quarterback Anderson Cole added two and Travis VanDomelen added another.The Skiers led 7-0 after the first quarter before exploding in the second to go into the locker room at the half up, 35-6.Aspen led 42-7 before Gunnison scored two touchdowns on its second-string defense late in the fourth quarter.Longhorns spikers outlast OlatheA battle between the 3A Western Slope’s top two teams once again lived up to the hype. Basalt and Olathe battled it out for five games during its first meeting Sept. 27, with the Longhorns prevailing. Basalt shook off an opening game loss Friday, reeling off three tight wins – all four games were decided by a total of just 11 points – to pull out the 3-1 victory and maintain sole possession of first place in the league.”The girls were not willing to die out there,” Basalt coach Clay Dahlman said. “There were times when I thought Olathe could’ve closed out games, but we were unwilling to surrender. When their backs are pushed up against the wall, they perform at a higher level.”Eleven errors – six of them coming on errant serves, coupled with stellar defensive play from the undersized Pirates – plagued the Longhorns (15-1 overall, 10-1 3A Western Slope) in Game 1. Basalt jumped out to a five-point cushion, but could not hold on and fell into an early hole with a 25-21 loss.”They knew it was going to be a battle and a fight for every point,” Basalt assistant Bree Wilson said. “When they had a run of six or seven points, it was like a snowball. Momentum was building and building. We needed a side out.”The Longhorns rallied back to square the match with a 25-22 Game 2 win. They took the lead in a pivotal Game 3 in which they spoiled multiple Olathe match points and won, 32-30. Olathe made Basalt earn its league-leading 15th victory. The scrappy Pirates kept nearly every ball in play and pushed Basalt in Game 4 before falling, 27-25.The Longhorns have little to time to celebrate their second consecutive victory after dropping their first match Oct. 5 against Coal Ridge; they travel to Gunnison for a match this afternoon.”I could tell in warm-up that the girls were focused and intense,” Dahlman said. “The girls were a little stunned with that upset in Coal Ridge. We were having some trouble, but the girls really pulled back together as a team.” Basalt football falls against PiratesThe Basalt football team gave 3A Western Slope stalwart Olathe an early scare, and gave itself reason to be optimistic heading into the season’s final stretch.The Longhorns nearly tied the score in the first, but couldn’t capitalize on four consecutive plays inside the 10-yard line. Later, they returned a kick to the Pirates 30-yard line, only to come up empty against a stout Olathe defense. The Pirates scored two touchdowns in both the first and second halves and, one week after falling in Aspen and losing their No. 4 state ranking, pulled out the 28-0 victory.”We came out of it a lot more positive and a lot better in terms of it being a team game,” Basalt coach Forrest Grosh. “Our spirits are up. We were playing physical, we just weren’t able to get anything moving with the ball.”After Basalt fell in Coal Ridge last week, dropping the Longhorns to 1-5, Grosh hinted about dissension among his team during a conversation Wednesday. The team’s spirits and sense of unity seemingly was revived Friday. And Basalt had multiple opportunities to keep pace with Olathe.After going down by a touchdown early, Basalt lined up inside the Pirates 10 on first down on its second possession. Three plays later, the Longhorns were sitting at the 1, and Grosh called for a quarterback sneak from Dillon Buck. Basalt was stuffed short of the goal line.The Longhorns, who forced two turnovers in the game, looked to capitalize on a kickoff return that set them up at the Olathe 30 in the third quarter in a 14-0 game. Their offense stalled once more, however. “Nothing came from that – they were very solid on defense,” Grosh said. “We kept our turnovers low and that was a good thing. We’re looking for positives and hoping to finish the season strong. We wanted to make sure we were all on board, and I think we did a better job tonight. “Even though we lost, we lost together instead of getting divided.”Basalt now sets its sights on two home games to finish out the season. It hosts rival Roaring Fork at 7 p.m. Friday.”As soon as this game was over, our focus switched to Roaring Fork,” Grosh said. “We’re hungry for them. We want our opportunity.”

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