Basalt Longhorns could have best team in years with 2016 version

Mike Vidakovich

In 2015, the Basalt Longhorn football team came within a whisker of qualifying for the 2A playoffs in the Western Slope League. Despite winning their final conference game of the year by a 20-14 count in Aspen, coach Carl Frerichs and the ’Horns missed out on the 16th, and final, postseason berth by just a couple of spots in the point system used to pick the top teams in the classification.

With 17 starters returning from a team that posted a 4-1 conference mark last year, Frerichs believes his group will have as good a shot as anyone to knock down the playoff barrier in 2016.

“The main thing is to stay healthy. Injuries are always big with a school our size,” stated Frerichs, who is in his ninth season guiding the Longhorns. “We just need to concentrate on bringing our ‘A’ game to practice each day, in games, and in the classroom. If we can do that, we should have a lot of success in everything we try to do.”

Basalt will have plenty of experience to fall back on this season, not to mention talent, as three all-conference seniors return for their final shot at the WSL crown. Miles Levy, Ian Lumsden and Cullen White will provide leadership and a season-long anchor on the field and in the locker room. Levy will call the signals for Basalt as their quarterback, while Lumsden will line up just a few yards behind him at running back. White will provide stability on the offensive and defensive lines.

The Longhorns will also throw four all-conference honorable mention players at their opponents this fall. Kyle Roberts, Alex Alberto, Raul Torres and Oswaldo Morales will provide depth to a Basalt team that may be among the best the school has fielded in recent years.

Frerichs forecasts all of this season’s upcoming Friday nights as being a test for his team, especially when conference play begins in late September.

“Every one of our conference games will be important,” said Frerichs. “We only have five games in the league, so if we want to win it, I think we are going to have to run the table and go 5-0.” The lone Western Slope League setback in 2015 for Basalt was a decisive one, as the Longhorns absorbed a 38-7 loss up north in Craig.

The Longhorns will get an idea of how good they really are in a hurry, as they will host a zero week game on Friday, Aug. 26, against the always formidable Rifle Bears.

“That will be a good test for us,” said Frerichs. “We have a lot of respect for [Rifle coach] Damon Wells and his program. It’s exciting and beneficial for our kids to play against a quality team like Rifle.”

Basalt’s final game of the season may be every bit as interesting as its first, as the Longhorns will travel down Highway 82 to face the rival Rams of Roaring Fork on Friday night, Oct. 28, in a game that could potentially have playoff implications for both teams.

Respect given may be respect earned this season as Basalt has all the ingredients to contend for the WSL title and keep popping the shoulder pads well into November in 2016. Going undefeated in the tough 2A WSL may be a tall order for the Longhorns, but that’s just what it could take to unseat Moffat County, and walk away as champions of the conference.

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