Late surge not enough as Basalt football season ends with loss to TCA

Austin Colbert
The Aspen Times
Basalt High School's Parker Nelson, right, tackles a Classical Academy runner on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, on the BHS field.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

The fight was there until the bitter end for the Longhorns, but the hole that was dug was too deep to climb out of.

Hosting No. 9 seed The Classical Academy (TCA) in the Class 2A playoffs on Saturday afternoon, the No. 8-seeded Basalt High School football team fell, 40-19, in the first-round game. TCA (8-2) will play No. 1 Delta in the quarterfinals next week, while BHS called it a season at 7-3 overall.

“As I just told the kids, there is only one team that is happy after all this,” longtime BHS coach Carl Frerichs said. “It’s just the reality of when you are in the playoffs. One team is happy, and one team is not. And we are the team that is unfortunately on the wrong side of it.”

The teams were playing for the first time since meeting in the first round of the 2019 playoffs, a 13-7 Basalt win in Colorado Springs. That fall, the Longhorns advanced to the semifinals — knocking off Rifle in double overtime in the quarters — before bowing out against Delta.

This time around, the offenses had a little more life to them, although it took a while for Basalt’s to really get going on Saturday.

“I don’t think we did our best job coaching in the first half. I think we got on our heels a little bit,” Frerichs said. “When we get on our heels, we seem to fold, and I was really proud of these kids battling for four quarters even though it wasn’t going our way.”

Basalt High School senior quarterback Noah Johnston runs with the ball against The Classical Academy on Saturday on the BHS field.
Basalt High School’s Parker Sims, right, defends a pass meant for The Classical Academy’s Will Schipfer on Saturday on the BHS field.

The Titans dominated early, leading 7-0 after a quarter and 17-0 at halftime. Despite recovering a surprise onside kick to begin the second half, Basalt’s offense fumbled and TCA picked it up and returned it roughly 50 yards for a score and it was suddenly 24-0 not even a minute into the third quarter.

Add on an interception a short while later, followed by another TCA score, and it was 30-0 Titans at the 3:26 mark of the third.

“Once we settled in, we started to do our things and get a little momentum,” Frerichs said of the slow start. “We knew they were never going to give up out there. It’s the hardest thing in coaching: When you get so close to these seniors and it’s that last game and you see these guys go … that’s the hardest part.”

Basalt’s William Daniel runs with the ball against The Classical Academy on Saturday.
Basalt High School senior quarterback Noah Johnston steps back to pass against The Classical Academy on Saturday.

Basalt did battle back, a short TD pass from senior quarterback Noah Johnston to junior wideout Taylor Hays getting BHS on the board at 30-6 after three quarters. Another successful onside kick led to another short Johnston touchdown pass – this time to senior tight end Mav Dombrowski – that made it 30-12 early in the fourth quarter.

TCA was able to tack on a field goal before Basalt junior tailback William Daniel bulldozed his way into the end zone, the touchdown getting Basalt to within 14 points at 33-19 with 6:43 to play.

However, the rally ended with a late TCA touchdown pass, and that was all she wrote on the Longhorns’ season.

“Once we got the momentum going, it seemed we started to play a lot better and settle in,” Frerichs said. “It’s just credit to how hard these kids work and what they do for this program.”

Basalt High School’s Gage Balderson, left, chases down a Classical Academy runner.
Players from The Classical Academy celebrate an early touchdown against Basalt.
Basalt High School’s Mav Dombrowski catches a touchdown pass against TCA.

After the game, the BHS coaches hugged each player on the team, and Frerichs was happy to talk about the impact this year’s senior class had on the program. This group went a combined 24-7 over the past three seasons, their freshman season having been the 5-2 campaign in 2021, played in the spring because of the pandemic.

“I love these guys, and I wish I could have them the next 20 years,” Frerichs said. “This is an incredible senior class. If people got to see how hard these kids work in the weight room and the classroom and how they treat each other, it’s super special. To me, that’s way more important than anything else. That’s going to be a really hard senior class to see go, but I know we have lots of kids who are excited to step up and do their parts as well in the future.”

Elsewhere across the 2A bracket, No. 12 Moffat County knocked off No. 5 Elizabeth, 31-21, and will play No. 4 Berthoud in the second round. No. 3 Rifle held off No. 14 Brush, 21-14, and will play No. 6 University next week.

The big upset was No. 15 Eaton — the defending state champions — beating No. 2 Kent Denver in the first round, 31-28. The Reds move on to play No. 10 Pagosa Springs in the next round.

Basalt High School defenders chase down a Classical Academy runner.
The Classical Academy quarterback Andrew Brown throws against Basalt.

Halftime hero wins $15k

During halftime of Basalt’s playoff game with TCA on Saturday, first-year BHS athletic director Jacob Ashworth staged a “punt, pass, and kick” contest, with $15,000 up for grabs (paid out by the school’s insurance policy). The first 100 people through the door on Saturday were allowed to sign up to compete, and it was Roaring Fork High School soccer standout Foster Hayes who was picked to participate.

And, well, he made it look easy. An impressive punt and throw set him up for a short field goal try, with Ashworth serving as the holder, and it sailed easily through the uprights. He immediately took off running in celebration.

Ashworth said they met the stipulations of the insurance plan, and that he expects Hayes to receive the full payout. The new AD also said he hopes to have similar activities — albeit maybe not always with a five-figure payout — at future BHS athletic events as a way to add extra excitement to the contests for spectators.

Foster Hayes runs across the field in celebration after successfully completing a punt, pass, and kick contest during halftime of the Basalt High School football playoff game against The Classical Academy on Saturday in Basalt. While BHS lost the game, Hayes, a standout soccer player at Roaring Fork High School, made easy work of the competition, his made field goal netting him a prize of $15,000, paid out by the school’s insurance plan.
Foster Hayes throws the ball during a punt, pass and kick contest during halftime of the Basalt High School football playoff game against The Classical Academy on Saturday.

Volleyball season ends for Aspen, Basalt at regionals

Area volleyball teams competed Saturday in regional play, with both Aspen and Basalt seeing their seasons come to an end.

In Region 2 hosted by No. 2 seed Jefferson Academy, the No. 23 Skiers went 0-2. They lost 3-2 to No. 35 Wellington and then fell 3-0 to the host Jaguars. Jefferson Academy also swept Wellington to advance to the 12-team state tournament.

Aspen finishes the season with a 13-10 overall record.

In Region 8 hosted by No. 8 seed Alamosa, Basalt went 0-2. The Longhorns lost 3-0 to Alamosa and then fell 3-1 to No. 17 University. It was University that played spoiler, also knocking off Alamosa, 3-1, to advance to state.

Basalt finishes the season with an 11-13 overall record.

In Region 9, No. 16 Rifle went 1-1, losing to No. 9 Resurrection Christian, which advanced.

Rifle, Coal Ridge soccer teams meet in 3A semis

No. 6 Rifle soccer beat No. 3 Peak to Peak 1-0 on Saturday in the 3A quarterfinals. Also in the 3A quarterfinals on Saturday, No. 15 Coal Ridge soccer beat No. 7 Frontier Academy 1-0.

With the wins, Rifle soccer plays Coal Ridge in the 3A semifinals on Wednesday at the University of Northern Colorado campus. The winner of these two Garfield Re-2 high schools plays the winner of No. 12 DSST: Conservatory Green Soccer v. No. 4 Forge Christian in the 3A championship game.

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