As one football season approaches its finish, another has been shown the starting line.
And, for the first time in several seasons, the Glenwood Springs-Rifle football rivalry is set to have league and post-season ramifications.
The Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) on Friday announced the leagues and schedules for all the teams that opted to play in the spring, or Season C.
East-West league assignments put Glenwood Springs and Rifle in the Class 3A West, along with area schools Coal Ridge, Basalt and Aspen. Rounding out the league are Steamboat Springs, Salida and Montezuma-Cortez.
Glenwood Springs in recent years has played a classification up from Rifle and Coal Ridge, so this year’s coronavirus-altered prep sports scheduling renews a league rivalry between the two storied Garfield County high school football programs.
In the Class 2A ranks, playing in the West league will be Grand Valley and, returning to varsity play for the first time in two years, Roaring Fork High School of Carbondale. Joining them will be St. Mary’s, Buena Vista, Ellicot and Manitou Springs.
“For the kids to actually see a schedule and know when it’s coming, I just think it makes it more real,” Basalt football coach Carl Frerichs said. “Now we are getting pretty close to when it’s really going to start happening.”
Along with the traditional fall sports of boys soccer and girls volleyball, football had originally been pushed back to spring because of concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
After pushback from parents, coaches and players, CHSAA ultimately gave football teams and school districts the option to choose between the fall (Season A) or the spring. The vast majority of the teams in the state opted to play this fall.
Just 54 teams or their respective school districts chose the spring, including all four school districts between Aspen and Parachute.
With so few teams playing spring football, CHSAA was forced to shuffle the leagues and even classifications around a bit to make things work in an abbreviated seven-week season.
CHSAA maintained that the alignments and schedules are subject to change should teams decide to opt out of the spring.
“Our bracket is extremely strong, which I really am excited for the kids and the coaches to be able to go up against,” Frerichs said. “We are not going to have a ton of teams, but I think the competition level is as high as the fall.”
The 2A Western Slope League has arguably been the best league in the state the past few years, highlighted by strong runs from Basalt, Delta and Rifle. In the fall 2019 season, No. 9 seed Basalt knocked off No. 1 seed Rifle in the state quarterfinals before losing to No. 4 seed Delta in the semifinals. Delta then lost to No. 2 seed Sterling in the 2A state championship game.
Delta and Moffat County — who were part of last year’s 2A WSL along with Aspen, Basalt, Rifle and Coal Ridge — opted to play football this fall and won’t be part of the equation come spring. Same for Eagle Valley, Battle Mountain and Summit, which normally play in the same 3A league with Glenwood Springs.
Football teams competing in Season C can start practice on Feb. 25, with the first week of competition getting underway March 11.
Teams will play through a six-game slate with the top eight teams per classification making the playoffs. Teams that don’t make the postseason will be allowed to play a seventh game after the regular season.
The state championship games are scheduled for May 7 and 8 at CSU-Pueblo. CHSAA is naming separate state champions for both the fall and spring seasons.
Exact dates and times for the spring games (see accompanying schedules) have not been established. Frerichs did say he hopes to see Friday games played earlier in the day, if not moved to Saturday afternoons, to avoid the extreme cold temperatures that come after sunset that time of year.
Season C also will include boys soccer and volleyball. Season B, which starts practice on Jan. 4, includes the traditional winter sports of boys and girls basketball, ice hockey, skiing, girls swimming, wrestling and competitive spirit.
Season D, which starts practice April 26, is the traditional spring sports lineup of lacrosse, girls soccer, baseball, girls golf, girls tennis, and track and field.
The just-concluded fall season included cross country, boys golf, softball and boys tennis.
Week 1: vs. Aspen
Week 2: @ Montezuma-Cortez
Week 3: vs. Coal Ridge
Week 4: @ Basalt
Week 5: vs. Rifle
Week 6: @ Salida
Week 1: @ Coal Ridge
Week 2: vs. Aspen
Week 3: @ Basalt
Week 4: vs. Salida
Week 5: @ Glenwood Springs
Week 6: vs. Steamboat Springs
Week 1: vs. Rifle
Week 2: vs. Salida
Week 3: @ Glenwood Springs
Week 4: @ Montezuma-Cortez
Week 5: @ Steamboat Springs
Week 6: vs. Aspen
Week 1: @ St. Mary’s
Week 2: @ Buena Vista
Week 3: vs. Ellicott
Week 4: @ Grand Valley
Week 5: vs. TBD
Week 6: vs. Sheridan
Week 1: vs. Ellicott
Week 2: @ TBD
Week 3: @ Buena Vista
Week 4: vs. Roaring Fork
Week 5: vs. St. Mary’s
Week 6: @ Ridge View
Week 1: vs. Salida
Week 2: @ Steamboat Springs
Week 3: vs. Rifle
Week 4: vs. Glenwood Springs
Week 5: @ Aspen
Week 6: @ Montezuma-Cortez