Rifle’s Tanner Vines, coach Damon Wells claim 2A WSL football awards
The first year in the Class 2A Western Slope League was a lucrative one for the Rifle High School football program as it won the league championship outright, going 4-1 in league play. After winning the league, the Bears entered the 2A state playoffs as the No. 7 seed.
Rifle then knocked out No. 10 Eaton, 27-0, before falling to No. 2 Resurrection Christian, 21-14, in the second round. Following the conclusion of the season, the Bears cleaned up in the 2A Western Slope League awards as senior fullback/linebacker Tanner Vines won the league’s Back of the Year award, while head coach Damon Wells won the league’s Coach of the Year award after guiding the Bears to a 9-2 record, with the two losses coming by eight points total.
Basalt’s Jake Reuss won the league’s Lineman of the Year award, while Coal Ridge’s Oscar Salazar won the league’s Kicker of the Year award.
Vines won the Back of the Year award after rushing for 2,230 yards and 21 touchdowns, marking the second consecutive season he rushed for more than 2,000 yards. He added seven receptions for 79 yards on the year. Vines finishes his Rifle career with 4,422 rushing yards and 41 touchdowns.
Along with Vines, Rifle saw junior running back Levi Warfel earn First Team All-Conference honors after rushing for 952 yards and nine touchdowns, adding eight receptions for 214 yards and five touchdowns.
Center Wyatt Warfel, G/DE Ariel Herrera, G/LB Paden Kinion, TE/S Dalton Pruett, and T/DE Ethan Mackely earned First Team honors as well for the Bears.
Warfel, Herrera, Kinion, and Mackley helped the Bears rush for 3,834 yards and 40 touchdowns on the season, with a runner going over the 100-yard mark 16 times. Pruett hauled in five passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, Kinion recorded 55 tackles and one sack, while Pruett added 52 tackles and two forced fumbles. Herrera chipped in with 50 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Mackely and Warfel added 41 and 32 tackles respectively, while Mackely led the Bears with 3.0 sacks and Warfel added 2.5 sacks.
Basalt saw senior RB/DE Jake Reardon and senior QB/LB Trevor Reuss earn First Team honors. Reardon rushed for 1,561 yards and 15 touchdowns for the Longhorns, while Reuss added 1,035 yards and seven touchdowns through the air. Reuss rushed for 288 yards and nine touchdowns as well.
Senior OL/DL Jake Reuss, senior RB/LB Tai Kim, senior OL/DL Goskany Luquin, and junior OL/DL Ernest Lopez earned First Team honors for the Longhorns.
Wrapping up the First Team, Coal Ridge saw junior FB/DL Damian Spell, and senior OL/DL Charles Spell earn First Team honors for the Titans.
Basalt landed five players on the honorable mention team, as senior Henry Twitchell, senior Ryan Borchelt, senior Zach Pagan, senior Chace Maytham, and junior Jackson Rapaport earned accolades. Oscar Salazar earned honorable mention accolades for the Titans as a kicker after hitting 11-of-12 extra points and 1-of-3 field goals.
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Aspen is set to add to its Olympic heritage next month as three local athletes head to the Beijing Games. Halfpipe skiers Alex Ferreira and Hanna Faulhaber, as well as cross-country skier Hailey Swirbul, will head over soon, but before that a send-off party is set for Wednesday.