With 16 seniors, Basalt football has high hopes
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado
BASALT ” New coach. New offense. New attitude.
That’s the company line from Basalt’s senior-laden football team, which, after a disappointing 2-7 showing last season, is ready for a fresh start under new head man Carl Frerichs.
To clarify, Frerichs isn’t new to the Longhorns program. He spent the last five years as Basalt’s defensive coordinator working under good friend Forrest Grosh, where he led a unit that was perennially a strength of Basalt’s teams. (Grosh resigned as the school’s athletic director at the end of the 2007 school year to move closer to his family in Pennsylvania.)
After assessing the shortcomings of last year’s team, Frerichs concluded that Basalt’s seven losses didn’t stem from a lack of talent but, arguably worse, a lack of teamwork.
Basalt dropped its first four games to playoff teams, and wound up losing two games by one point and another by eight.
During the offseason, Frerichs stressed to his team ” which is headed up by a senior class of 16 ” the importance of uniting for a singular cause. That message seemed to hit home.
Ten of his seniors attended Mesa State’s camp in Grand Junction with a number of juniors and underclassmen, and offseason workouts were regularly attended by a group of 10-15 players.
“I think if the guys can come together as a team, they can compete with anyone,” Frerichs said. “We had almost our entire starting team go to camp, which I think is huge because camp is probably the No. 1 place we get better. … Right now they’re bonding, they’re acting the right way and they’re coming together, and I think that’s what football is all about.”
Senior cornerback and wide receiver Taylor Mills said the difference in attitude with this year’s team is noticeable.
“We’ve been working harder than usual,” he said. “Coaches are pushing us, teammates are pushing each other and we’ve got a whole new offense in there, which is looking good. There’s some high hopes. There’s definitely a few teams that look like they’ll be hard games, but I don’t see why we can’t be up in the top of the league.”
The seniors on Basalt’s team have to look no further than upvalley, to rival Aspen, for motivation, Mills added. After a coaching switch last season, the Skiers turned the 2A Western Slope on its head, knocking off league powers and defying expectations en route to a 7-3 finish and their first playoff berth in 33 years.
Included in that turnaround was a 14-6 Aspen win over its rival on homecoming. That loss stuck with Basalt players throughout the offseason, in weight room sessions and at camp in Grand Junction, said Longhorns senior tailback Dalton Jacobsen.
“It didn’t sit well,” Jacobsen added. “It was a pretty sick feeling in all of our stomachs. … This year, we’ve got to take it to them.”
Jacobsen and Mills are both confident that Frerichs’ newly installed veer attack on offense will remedy what was, at times, a punchless unit in 2007.
Frerichs made the move to utilize his personnel better, scrapping a power I offense that favored big, heavy linemen for a scheme that he said is suited for quicker, more athletic blockers.
The emphasis in preseason workouts has been getting the Longhorns accustomed to working at a faster pace while on the field.
“It’s a fast, quick-hitting offense and it just seems to work better,” Mills said.
Basalt certainly will miss do-everything fullback and linebacker Willy Klein, but it returns the two players who joined him on last year’s all-league first team, Cody Kosinski and Taylor Foreman-Niko.
Kosinski will help clear the way for Jacobsen on offense as a fullback, while on defense he’ll be one of three linebackers in Basalt’s 5-3 scheme. Foreman-Niko, at 6-foot-6, will be a big target at tight end and a handful for opposing linemen from his defensive end spot.
Heading into its opener against IA Meeker at 7 p.m. Friday, Frerichs wasn’t settled on his starting quarterback, but added that regardless of who wins the battle between senior Dillon Buck and junior Corey Ostrander, the other will play elsewhere on offense.
“They’re both two of our better athletes and two of our better players,” the coach said. “They’re pretty equal. They both have the same amount of game experience, started the same amount of games last year. I’m comfortable with either one.
Other senior starters include wingback Jairo Carresco, senior offensive guard and defensive tackle Seth Willits and senior tight end and defensive end Luke Diekman.
Jacobsen said most of the group has been playing football together since third grade and wants to go out on a winning note. The urgency to do so is palpable.
“In years past, it seems like we’ve had the talent to go to the playoffs as individuals but no one has wanted to play as a team,” he said. “I think this year, with this group of seniors, we have a team bond and we can play as a team and hopefully make it to the playoffs.”
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