| PostIndependent.com

On the Fly column: Get out of town

Old man winter is starting to settle in the Roaring Fork Valley; fall conditions seem to have come and gone. For many local anglers this is what they’ve been waiting for, the river and fish all to themselves. For others this is the time to hit the vise, spinning up all the heavy hitters for the summer season. For myself the winter is not only for skiing, tying flies and chasing trout, but also a time to plan and execute a trip to an exotic location with fly rod in hand. Most lean towards warmer locations, typically a place where we can feel the sand between our toes. Anyone who has been lucky enough to experience what saltwater fly fishing has to offer knows that scrimping and saving all year for a few days standing on skiff or in a sandy flat makes it all worth it.

Saltwater destination trips are not only for the rich and famous. Granted you can make a trip as expensive or cheap as you want, but if well-researched and planned accordingly, you will not have to spend your life savings. Deciding where to go is the first part of enjoying this experience. Mexico, Belize, Florida Keys, Louisiana marsh and the Bahamas are a few but not all great options for your first saltwater adventure. Not all of these places require staying at a lodge; with resources such as Airbnb and VRBO, you can find extremely inexpensive places to stay.

The preparation piece of the puzzle for me is nearly half the fun; nothing is sweeter than the feeling of anticipation before a trip. Getting geared up for a fishing adventure has most of us feeling like it’s Christmas morning. If you know your way around a vise, tying up baitfish, crabs and shrimp for your salty adventure feels like it brings the whole experience together. Next — cast, cast and cast some more. It is not worth traveling thousands of miles to blow a shot at the opportunities the ocean throws at you. Traveling in general (not only for fly fishing) is such a healthy experience. It is truly eye opening, but getting out of our comfort zone and rising to challenges makes us well-rounded. Do some research, take that fly rod, and go.

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or taylorcreek.com.

Coal Ridge repeats as 2A/3A Co-Ed state cheer champs

The Coal Ridge High School cheerleading squad came away with its second-straight state title at the CHSAA State Spirit Championships over the weekend.

The Titans won the Class 2A/3A Co-Ed division, besting the field of 14 teams entering the contest and four teams that advanced to the finals on Saturday.

“This team has worked very hard this season,” coach Alyssa Thurmon said on Monday. “This is an incredible group of kids who are dedicated to our team and this sport.”

Thurmon said the team went into the competition wanting to maximize the scoresheet, which it did scoring a 90.433 in the finals — nearly 20 points ahead of second-place Bayfield.

The state champion Coal Ridge High School co-ed cheer team.

Coal Ridge was also the top team coming out of the preliminary rounds, with 90.983 points. Rounding out the top-four teams in the 2A/3A Co-Ed competition were Alamosa and DSST: Byers.

“I set very high expectations for them and they exceed those every day,” Thurmon said. “They practice before and after school, spend a lot of time in the weight room, and work hard in the classroom. They have elite level stunting and tumbling skills, which have taken years of hard work.”

Titans team member Brayden Kammers was named CHSAA All Elite for the weekend.

Coal Ridge cheer team member Brayden Kammers, left, was named CHSAA All-Elite.

“Brayden is one of our hardest workers,” Thurmon said. “He is in the weight room every day before school. He never complains, comes to practice and works hard to set a good example and be a good leader for our team.”

Also from the area, Aspen High School won the 3A Poms division at the state championships.

Glenwood Springs and Rifle high schools also competed — Glenwood in the 4A Cheer division, in which the Demons finished 10th; and Rifle in the brand new 4A/5A Game Day division, in which the Bears placed 20th.

Coal Ridge High School co-ed cheer team members

Maddie Balizan

Morgan Bilodeau

Kat Boyd

Tana Couey

Cipriana Dacuma

Leila Green

Andrea Jurado

Brayden Kammers

Kalicia MacGregor

Pilar Pagni

Hartleigh Porter

Haven Prodzinski

Lindsay Smith

Natalie Smythe

Paige Stecklein

Tori Tilley

Nathan Tomasello

Christian Vasquez

Prep roundup: Glenwood swim, hockey teams score opening weekend wins

The Glenwood Spring Lady Demons swim and dive team carried its winning ways into the new season Saturday with a win in the home opener at the Glenwood Springs Community Center.

The Glenwood girls, coming off an undefeated, league-winning 2018-19 season, finished first in the four team meet over Fruita Monument, Summit and Moffat County high schools.

1. Glenwood Springs High School — 320 points

2. Fruita Monument — 282 points

3. Summit — 197 points

4. Moffat County — 90 points

Glenwood senior Haley Diemer led the team with first-place finishes and state 3A qualifying times in the 200-yard freestyle (2:14.68) and 500-yard freestyle (6:03.59).

Senior diver Abby Scruton led all divers with 178.90 points. Glenwood dominated the diving competition with teammate and sister Celia Scruton finishing in second with 148.05 points, and Libby Claassen finishing third with 143.65 points.

Other notable performances included:

• Sally McDonnell (senior), second place 50 freestyle (28.95), and third in the 500 freestyle (6:18.14)

• Ellie McPherson (sophomore), second in 100 butterfly (1:16.01)

• Emma Price (sophomore), third place in 100 backstroke (1:14.71)

• Sophie Moon (junior), third in 100 breast stroke (1:21.21)

• 200 medley relay, third (Price, Lindenberg, MacPherson, Diemer) *State 3A qualifying time of 2:09.99

• 200 freestyle relay, second (MacPherson, Friemel, Moon, McDonnel *State 3A qualifying time of 1:54.83

• 400 freestyle relay, second (Moon, Diemer, Friemel, McDonnell), 4:24.22

Next up for Glenwood will be a triangular meeting with Aspen and Summit on Wednesday at the Glenwood Springs Community Center. Glenwood will travel to Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction on Dec. 14 for the league’s annual relay meet.

Glenwood High hockey scores opening win

Glenwood Springs High’s boys hockey team, under the direction of coach Tim Cota, won its opening game of the season on the road Saturday, 8-1, over the Air Academy Cadets in Colorado Springs.

The Demons out shot Air Academy 43-18. Glenwood’s Hunter Hadsock had 17 saves in the goal on 18 shots.

Ryan Kotz scored a hat trick for the Demons with two goals in the first period and another in the third.

Goals also came from Nolan McPherson in the first period and Colter Strautman, Robbie Weir, McPherson and Max Mencimer in the second.

“Our forward lines were able to establish a balanced attack, something we knew we had the capability to do this year and which we will need to do consistently to achieve our season goals,” assisting coach Richie Luetke said.

Added Kotz, the senior team captain, “It was a good start to our season, and our second period was probably our strongest.

“We do need to work on maintaining a high level of play throughout the entire game. That’s the mental side that we can definitely work on for ourselves.”

Glenwood hoops action

After opening the season with a pair of losses to Fruita Monument (40-68) and Horizon (39-62) at the Warrior Classic in Grand Junction, the Glenwood Springs boys basketball team scored a win Saturday 55-49 over Bear Creek.

Up 27-20 at halftime, the Demons saw the lead fade by the end of the third when Bear Creek tied the game 34-34. Glenwood’s Patrick Young and Adam Schrader scored with 2 minutes to play to make it 48-41, and the Demons hung on down the stretch.

The Glenwood girls, playing in the Palmer Tip-Off Tourney got off to a 2-1 start on the season with a 34-32 win over Palmer on Thursday and a 50-22 win over Pueblo South on Saturday, before dropping a 50-38 decision to Denver South on Saturday.

Rifle, Roaring Fork girls earn Brenda Patch tourney wins

Rifle Girls 34, Coal Ridge Girls 27

The Rifle and Coal Ridge girls opened Saturday’s basketball action at the annual Brenda Patch Tournament in Carbondale with a 2 p.m. matinee start, and it was the Bears of Rifle who managed to come out on top, recording a 34-27 victory in a contest that was close throughout.

Rifle, coming off a 50-40 loss to Roaring Fork on Friday night, got a key scoring stretch from sophomore Jamie Caron midway through the third period to turn a one point deficit into a 27-24 lead. It was a 3-pointer by Caron and a hard, driving layup that gave the Bears the breathing room that proved to be the difference in the game.

“Jamie is a tough player and she is very stubborn. She works her tail off at all times and she really came up big for us during that stretch of the game,” said second year Rifle head coach Eric Caro.

Coal Ridge, playing with junior center Taylor Wiescamp on the bench for most of the second half due to foul trouble, made a final push at Rifle with 1:04 showing on the clock when freshman Jackie Camunez hit a 3-pointer from the top of the free throw circle to trim Rifle’s lead to 29-27, but clutch free throws from senior Delaney Phillips down the stretch iced the game for the Bears.

Caron led Rifle (1-1) in scoring with 19 points. Camunez topped the Titans (1-1) scoring ledger with 11 points.

Denver Lutheran Boys 88, Coal Ridge Boys 37

The state’s top-ranked 3A team, the Denver Lutheran Lights raced out to a 27-3 lead in the first quarter behind the inside play of 6-foot 11-inch center Baye Fall, and an array of outside 3-point marksmanship to post an 88-37 win over the Coal Ridge Titans in late afternoon play Saturday at the Brenda Patch Tourney.

Fall, a talented freshman, grabbed rebounds, swatted inside Titan shots, and threw down big league dunks as the Light’s lead swelled to 34-3 midway through the second period.

“A game like this one really helps us with practice now,” said veteran Coal Ridge mentor Paul Harvey. “Hopefully now they will do all the little things we ask of them. But congratulations to Lutheran, they’re a tough team.”

Featuring what must be one of the tallest and most talented lineups in the state of Colorado, regardless of classification, the Lights took a 58-17 lead at intermission and were never seriously threatened in the second half of play. With Fall on the bench during a long stretch of the third period, the Titans hit on some inside scores to keep the quarter at a manageable 18-10 deficit.

The scoring column listed Fall with 28 points to lead Lutheran. Guard Tommy Apodaca chipped in with 12 points for the Lights. Senior Austin Gerber led the Titans with 10 points.

Roaring Fork Girls 52, Steamboat Springs Girls 34

Trailing 17-11 early in the second period of play, the Roaring Fork girls overcame a lethargic start to stay unbeaten with a 52-34 win over Steamboat Springs.

The Rams got a much needed spark in the second quarter following a timeout by Roaring Fork coach Juan Quintero. A pair of juniors, Lily Nieslanik and Maya Lindgren came to the rescue for Roaring Fork as Nieslanik took over on the inside with several timely scores, and Lindgren strung together three outside shots-one a 3-pointer-to turn the tide and give the home team a 26-18 lead at the half. A lead Roaring Fork would never relinquish.

“We just told the kids to relax at that timeout,” Quintero said. “We changed defenses and started getting some better shots. It feels good to be undefeated. I’m super proud of these kids.”

Roaring Fork (2-0) was led in scoring by junior Letey Crownhart, who caught fire in the second half to score 13 points, including three 3-pointers. Lindgren added 10 points, with Nieslanik hitting for 8 points and senior Caroline Wisroth scoring 7 points.

DSST/Byers Boys 58, Roaring Fork Boys 16.

The final game on Saturday night in Carbondale saw the Roaring Fork boys fall to the Denver School of Science and Technology/Byers by a score of 58-16.

After a good opening night showing against Denver Lutheran on Friday, the Rams ran out of gas against another top ten ranked 3A team in DSST/Byers.

“We played well last night and really competed,” said Roaring Fork coach Tony Gross. “Tonight we didn’t play well on either end of the floor and their pressure defense had us tied in knots.”

A pair of juniors, Tristan Maker and Graham Pietsch led the Rams in scoring with 7 and 5 points respectively. Roaring Fork (0-2) will hit the road next week for a game against the Vanguard School in Colorado Springs, followed by a trip to Loveland for the Resurrection Christian Tournament.

2019-20 prep hoops season kicks off with tournament action this weekend

Area high school basketball and other winter sports get underway starting today and into the weekend, including the annual Brenda Patch Memorial Tournament at Carbondale’s Roaring Fork High School.

The host Roaring Fork Rams boys and girls invite two other Garfield County varsity teams, the Coal Ridge boys and girls and the Rifle girls.

Also participating will be the top-ranked preseason 3A team in the state, Lutheran, and DSST: Byers on the boys side, and Steamboat Springs on the girls side.

Junior varsity teams begin play on Thursday afternoon, with most of their games taking place in the auxiliary gym.

Varsity action in the main gym begins Friday at 3 p.m. at RFHS when the Coal Ridge girls take on Steamboat. That will be followed by the Coal Ridge boys vs. DSST: Byers, the Roaring Fork and Rifle girls, and the nightcap featuring the Roaring Fork boys vs. Lutheran, with game time tentatively set for 7:30 p.m.

Games continue Saturday, with varsity games resuming at 2 p.m.

The Glenwood Springs boys and girls basketball teams open the season on the road at separate tournaments.

The Demon boys open the Grand Junction Warrior Challenge at 3:30 p.m. Thursday vs. Fruita Monument, with Horizon and Bear Creek on the slate for Friday and Saturday.

The Demon girls are at the Palmer High School Tip-Off Tourney, also Thursday through Saturday, starting with a game vs. Palmer at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

And, Grand Valley High School’s boys and girls teams are on the road at the Front Range Corridor Classic Tournament, also running Thursday through Saturday.

Patch Tourney includes Comfort Closet benefit

Roaring Fork High School’s National Honor Society will be collecting donations of new socks and underwear, personal hygiene items, non-perishable food items, and winter clothing items to benefit The Comfort Closet during the Brenda Patch Memorial Tournament Thursday through Saturday in Carbondale.

The Comfort Closet is a pantry run with the intention to provide essentials to Carbondale families in need. It is housed at Carbondale Middle School, in Mayett Perez’s office. Perez is CMS’s Family Liaison.

Since its inception, The Comfort Closet has helped many families and is in desperate need of donations to continue supporting families in the local community, according to a press release.

Donations can be made at the door of the tournament. Contact Lorri Knaus, NHS advisor, with any questions, sponsorships or donations to be made outside of the Brenda Patch Tournament games. She can be reached at 970-456-9958 or lknaus@rfschools.com

Thursday also marks the beginning of three other winter sports seasons — boys wrestling for Glenwood Springs, Coal Ridge, Rifle and Grand Valley; girls swimming for Glenwood Springs; and boys hockey for Glenwood Springs. For all the weekend schedules, see Scoreboard in the daily Sports section of the Post Independent print edition.

Today through Saturday is also the state cheer competition in Denver. Teams from Glenwood Springs, Coal Ridge and Rifle will be participating.


Rifle to name softball field after longtime girls softball coach Cindy Skinner

A longtime Rifle resident who has helped to shape the lives of many young women over the years is being bestowed with a special honor.

Pioneering Rifle High School and Little League softball coach Cindy Skinner will be honored with the renaming of the softball field at Deerfield Park as Cindy Skinner Field.

Rifle City Council unanimously agreed at its Nov. 20 meeting to name the field after Skinner, who was the founding coach for the Rifle Bears softball program starting in 1995 until 2015. Skinner has continued to coach the younger girls through the city’s youth league.

“For me, it’s about being able to have these young women look to other women as someone they can believe in and be a model to them for making a difference,” Skinner said this week.

Originally from Michigan where she played softball while growing up, Skinner came to Rifle when her husband, Brad Skinner, took a teaching job at RHS.

Cindy went to work for what was then known as Garfield Youth Services (now YouthZone), and soon got involved on the front end of starting the local high school softball team.

“Honestly, I’ve learned a lot from coaching,” she said. “You see the whole game from that perspective.”

Skinner credits current Bears coach Troy Phillips with continuing to develop the program after serving as her assistant coach for several years. “It was definitely a team effort, and not something I did all by myself,” she said.

Cindy Skinner stands outside the dugout during her coaching career at Rifle High School. Skinner retired after the 2014 season. (courtesy of Cindy Skinner)

Several Rifle residents and former players of Skinner’s spoke before City Council or wrote letters in support of renaming what’s been long known as Taugenbaugh Field.

“… Her actions changed the course of my life,” 1999 RHS graduate and member of the inaugural team Emily Hisel said. “Softball at RHS gave me a place where I could excel, and friends that I keep to this day.”

Skinner ultimately encouraged Hisel to take up coaching as her daughter took up the sport.

“It has become a major component of my life, and has strengthened my connection to my daughter as well as her friends and their families,” Hisel said.

“Cindy was such an amazing coach, who still cares about her players to this day. She made softball a moment in our lives that we will remember forever,” 2014 RHS graduate Mary Robinson wrote to the council.

And, added current RHS Athletic Director Damon Wells in another letter, “Stadium and field naming really are ways for schools and municipalities to demonstrate what matters … longevity, impact and excellence.

“Effectively, Cindy is the ‘Mother of Softball’ in Rifle,” Wells said. “It would be the ultimate sign of respect for any coach to see a legacy cemented through the naming of a field.”

Joey Thomas, current president of the Colorado River Valley Little League, said Skinner has been instrumental in growing the league’s softball program.

“This past season, we had six full teams from the Rifle area, and much of this success can be attributed to Cindy’s help,” Thomas wrote. “Her investment in our youngest players can be seen at all our levels of competition.”

Skinner said her work with the youth program has allowed her to continue the connection with her former high school players, many of whom now have their own children in Little League.

“I just love watching the kids grow, and we have a strong philosophy that what you learn on the softball field, you can take into life and be able to use in your personal growth and in the community,” Skinner said.


Sunlight opening Friday for sneak-preview weekend

How much snow does Sunlight have right now?

It’s hard to know for sure after a bear wreaked havoc on the resort’s measuring stake, but there’s at least enough for a sneak-preview before the official opening Dec. 13.

The ski area is set to open Friday, one week ahead of schedule, but just for the weekend through Sunday. The area will be closed Monday-Thursday next week before opening full-time, Sunlight officials announced Wednesday.

Skiing and boarding will be limited to the middle part of the mountain down to the base lodge off of the Tercero lift, where snowmaking has been in full force since late October.

“The conditions are going to be great on what we have open,” Sunlight General Manager Tom Hays said. “We’ve been busy making snow, and it’s wall-to-wall on Midway. It’s a good chance to get out and do some tune-up runs.”

Last weekend’s high winds blew much of the snow at the very top of the mountain into the trees, he said.

But, with a little work and a good chance for some more snow on Thursday, Sunlight may have top-to-bottom skiing by the following weekend.

“It’s great skiing now once you break over on the top, but we probably need another 6 to 8 inches to open that part of the mountain,” Hays said.

Sunlight received an additional 8-10 inches of snow in the most recent storms last week, Troy Hawks, marketing and sales director for Sunlight, said.

“We do need to receive more snow in order to get more terrain open,” he emphasized in regard to the upper mountain closure. Sunlight also implemented a new paid uphill passport program for this season, so access onto the mountain is limited to pass holders only.

Snowmaking operations also continue.

“We estimate we’ve used about 50% of our available water supply, which bodes well for getting more terrain on the lower mountain covered,” Hawks said.

Sunlight opens in earnest a week from Friday with some special promotions, including a tempting deal for season pass holders from any other resort.

Called the “Sunnystock,” anyone who shows a 2019-20 season pass from another ski resort the weekend of Dec. 13-15 can buy two Sunlight lift tickets for $69.

Also on Dec. 13, Sunlight’s volunteer ski patrol plans to host a beer tasting with live music starting at 3 p.m. in the Sunlight Lodge.

Later this season, Sunlight plans to usher in a new era with the launch of its three-phase, $4 million expansion by opening five new runs on the East Ridge. 

This summer, several tree glade areas were cleared along the existing Aligator Alleys, Deception, Defiance and Perry’s Plunge runs. Trees were also cleared below the Midland Traverse, adding about 500 new vertical feet to Lower Defiance and Lower Deception.

Phase 2 of the planned expansion calls for glading nearly 100 additional acres of forested area to the east of the existing ski area boundary where more runs will be added below Midland Traverse.

The run-out near Four Mile Creek will be hike-out only until a new fixed-grip lift is planned to be installed as part of phase 3.

“This is a multi-year effort, and while glading work is already underway, we are in the very early stages of a process that includes building a capital fund, negotiating additional financing, permitting processes with the county and Forest Service, mapping, planning, and shopping for lifts,” Hays said in a news release.

Sunlight’s last expansion was in 1993 when the East Ridge area was opened up, adding more than a dozen new black and double-black expert runs.

The new lift would carry skiers up the mountain from just below Perry’s Plunge to an unloading station just above Beaujolais and Rebel. 

Last season was Sunlight’s “best ever” in terms of revenue, Hawks said. The ski area measured than 203 inches of snow, which helped Sunlight boost its skier and snowboarder visits 16% above its 10-year average, he said.

Another solid season would put Sunlight in a good position to continue funding the expansion project, Hays said.


New Roaring Fork High School hoops coaches continue alumni tradition

The basketball tradition at Carbondale’s Roaring Fork High School is not lost for a minute on new boys head coach Tony Gross.

Having graduated from the school in 1983 and played basketball for coach Richard Southall, Gross is another in a line of RFHS alumni who will carry the head coaching torch in guiding the Rams through the 2019-2020 season.

“I think about the tradition, but I don’t really feel any added pressure,” said Gross from his office in the school following a recent holiday practice. “I just want to keep the Roaring Fork program strong. My son Clay is helping out this season coaching the junior varsity, so that makes things extra special for me.”

Gross is no stranger to the program at his alma mater, having served as the JV coach for six seasons under the longtime Ram mentor Larry Williams — also a Roaring Fork alum.

Gross is quick to credit Williams with helping to bring him along slowly as he learned to look at the game from a coaching perspective.

“I learned so much from him, especially how to relate to the kids,” Gross said.

Although he would have been perfectly content to remain in an assistant coaching capacity at Roaring Fork, Gross admits that moving over a spot on the bench to the head coach’s seat gives new meaning to the upcoming basketball campaign.

“I knew that I wanted to do this someday, so I was excited when coach (Williams) asked me to be his assistant years ago. I wanted to be a head coach, but I would have been perfectly happy to keep on being the junior varsity coach,” said Gross.

Gross will get an initiation by fire with the early season schedule that his team will face right out of the gates.

Roaring Fork’s first four games will all be against teams that are ranked in the preseason 3A top 10 in the state. It all starts this weekend in Carbondale as the Rams will host the annual Brenda Patch Memorial Tournament.

Roaring Fork will face Denver Lutheran on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. The Lights are the top-ranked team in the state in class 3A.

It’s evident that Gross bleeds Ram blue and gold. If his enthusiasm for the new job catches on with his players, look for Roaring Fork to once again reside near the top of the 3A Western Slope League.

“This is a young team. We have three seniors, but only one of them got much varsity experience,” explained Gross. “We’re going to play hard, though, and we’re going to play defense. I’m looking forward to getting things started.”

Quintero takes over Roaring Fork girls program

Much like Gross, new Roaring Fork girls coach Juan Quintero is no stranger to Roaring Fork High School or the school’s storied basketball program.

New Roaring Fork High School girls basketball coach Juan Quintero addresses the team before the start of practice at the school on Monday evening.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Quintero played basketball for the Rams and graduated in 2002. He was the girls’ junior varsity coach last season, assisting head coach and Ram alumna Jade Bath, who has stepped aside to put more time into her position as Roaring Fork athletic director.

The promotion to the head coaching ranks was actually a bit of a surprise to Quintero, who was gearing up for another run as the Rams’ assistant.

“This was unexpected. I was just planning on helping Jade again, but she decided she wanted to take some time away from coaching and focus on her athletic director duties,” Quintero said.

Make no mistake, though, Quintero is excited and geared up for the challenge of guiding the Roaring Fork ladies, and he is looking forward to put his own stamp on the program which has hovered around the .500 mark the last few seasons.

“Jade really helped to build this program up. It was way down for a few years there,” Quintero said. “Our team will be kind of small, but this is an athletic group. We’re going to try and get out in transition and push the pace of the game.”

Along with his duties as the junior varsity coach last year, Quintero is familiar with many of the girls on his team this season, having coached club soccer for 10 years in Carbondale and worked with many in the current sophomore class when they played basketball at Carbondale Middle School.

The Roaring Fork girls have state championship banners from 1984, 1989, 1990, and 1991 hanging proudly in the gymnasium. Quintero’s head coaching initiation, and the first step to getting the Rams back to the glory days of three decades ago will start on Friday night at the Brenda Patch Tournament when Roaring Fork will tip off against Rifle at 6 p.m.


Rifle’s Warfel, Coach Wells top 2A Western Slope All-Conference selections

Rifle High School’s powerhouse senior running back Levi Warfel and 10th-year head coach Damon Wells topped the list among the Class 2A Western Slope League All-Conference football selections released Monday.

Warfel, who rushed for 1,872 yards on 198 carries with an average of 9.5 yards per carry on the season, was named the league’s Back of the Year in voting by league coaches. Warfel also caught 12 passes for another 239 yards.

And, on the defensive side of the ball, he recorded 16 solo tackles and had 39 tackle assists to help lead Rifle to a 10-1 record and top billing in the 2A state playoffs before the Bears were upended in the second round at Basalt.

Wells, in his second stint as head coach at Rifle, led the Bears to an undefeated league season at 5-0 and a second straight 2A WSL title.

Rifle head coach Damon Wells directs players as the Bears go through pre-season practice.
Kyle Mills / Citizen Telegram

Six other Rifle football players joined Warfel on the All-Conference first team, including fellow seniors Kenny Tlaxcala, Carter Pressler, Holden Stutsman, Ethan Mackley, Ariel Herrera and junior Josh Straw.

Neighboring Coal Ridge also had a pair of first-team picks in junior Jackson Wade and senior Damian Spell.

Following are all of the WSL first-team and honorable mention selections for the season.

2A WSL All-Conference football selections

Back of the Year — Levi Warfel, senior, Rifle

Lineman of the Year — Ernie Lopez, senior, Basalt

Kicker of the Year — Jon Woodrow, senior, Aspen

Coach of the Year — Damon Wells, Rifle

First Team: Kenny Tlaxcala, Carter Pressler, Holden Stutsman, Levi Warfel, Ethan Mackley, Josh Straw and Ariel Herrera (Rifle); Jackson Wade and Damian Spell (Coal Ridge); Tristan Johnston, Jackson Rappaport, Rulbe Alvarado, Ernesto Lopez (Basalt); Dillon Hendrickson, Jonathon Woodrow, Max Ufkes and Aidan Ledingham (Aspen); Nolan Bynum, Nate Workman, Gauge Lockhart, Hunter Hughes and Brandon Butler (Delta); Joe Campagna, Daniel Cruz and Corey Scranton (Moffat County).

Honorable Mention: Kaden Wolf, Will Reed, Talon Cordova, Taylor Miller, Dillon Tiffany and Noah Holbrook (Rifle); Karsen Dubois, Colby Hoffman and Tyler Spell (Coal Ridge); Sam Sherry, Cole Dombrowski, Matty Gillis, Gavin Webb, Lander Mcnamee and Jose Castorena (Basalt); Will Brown, Tyler Ward and Jon Haisfield (Aspen); Colton Johnson, Skylar Kraai, Ku La Moo, Colby Wilson, Jeffery Griffith, James Goff and Ethan Lawrence (Delta); Taran Teeter, Logan Hafey and Dagan White (Moffat County).


Several Garfield County preps among 3A, 4A All-State soccer selections

Glenwood Springs and Roaring Fork high schools landed three athletes among the Colorado High School Activities Association first- and second-team All-State soccer selections.

In the Class 4A picks, Glenwood Springs senior defensive back Mitchell Burt made the All-State second team.

Goalkeeper and fellow senior Carlos Guardado was given honorable mention, as the defensive-oriented Demons went 10-3-3 on the season before losing out in the first round of the 4A state playoffs to Standley Lake.

Guardado recorded 80 saves on the season as the Demons’ primary goalie. Burt also spent some game time in the net, recording one save.

Rifle High also had a pair of 4A honorable mention picks in senior goalkeeper Alexis Lopez Jimenez and junior defenseman/middle fielder Luis Molina.

Carbondale’s Roaring Fork High School was represented in the 3A All-State selections by senior forward Dylan Webster (first team), senior defenseman Frankie Harrington (second team) and senior middle fielder Lucas Schramer (honorable mention).

The Rams’ seventh-year head coach, Nick Forbes, was also named 3A Coach of the Year.

Roaring Fork went 15-3-1 on the season and made it to the 3A state championship game against Kent Denver on Nov. 16, where the Rams lost 5-0 to finish as state runner-up.

On the season, Webster was the second-leading striker for the Rams with 14 goals, plus 8 assists.

Other 3A All-State picks from the area included Coal Ridge junior Jack Price and Basalt senior Gaby Bonilla, both honorable mention.