Finally healthy, Aspen football closes out non-league play with a rout of Grand Valley
For the first time since the opening minutes of the season, the Aspen High School football team was able to show off its full strength Friday behind a healthy roster. Hosting Grand Valley for homecoming, the Skiers rolled to a 44-0 win on the AHS turf in their final non-league game.
“It’s great having healthy kids. It’s great that the young guys got some reps as well,” Aspen coach Travis Benson said. “It’s good to see it working. I give my hats off to the O-line; they are getting better every week and they are grinding and going to work. Receivers are blocking like linemen down the field. It’s good to see the guys playing for each other and battling.”
Junior quarterback Tyler Ward started at quarterback, his second straight start after missing Game 2 against Meeker because of injury. Senior receiver Max Ufkes got back on the field after missing a few weeks, and everything finally seemed right for an Aspen team that was preseason No. 9 in Class 2A but quickly dropped out after an 0-2 start.
“We are back. We are back to normal; we are healthy,” AHS senior Jonathan Woodrow said. “We are executing our plays, and it feels great. It’s awesome to get a win.”
It took Aspen all of three plays to score against Grand Valley. Big runs by Woodrow Eli Hunt set up a 1-yard quarterback sneak from Ward for an 8-0 lead only 50 seconds into the game. A few minutes later it became 16-0 when Ward found Dillon Hendrickson from 21 yards out.
Aspen led 24-0 after a quarter, Ward finding Woodrow from 11 yards for the third touchdown.
“Tyler is stepping up huge. He is an incredible quarterback. We give it to him, and we rely on him completely,” Woodrow said. “Our O-line is incredible. The whole offense is clicking.”
The Skiers continued to roll from there, Ward finding Woodrow yet again, this time from 14 yards out, to make it 32-0. It was 38-0 at halftime after Hunt busted loose for a 58-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes until the break.
The final score came late in the third quarter when backup quarterback Jon Haisfield found the end zone on a short run.
It was Aspen’s first shutout since a 40-0 win at Cedaredge in Game 3 of the 2017 season. AHS gave up only six points last week in a 26-6 win at Cedaredge.
“The defense is grinding, and they are coming together as a group,” Benson said. “A lot of guys in new positions, some guys in old. Defense is all effort at the end of the day, and it’s a desire and a want to, and the kids are grinding pretty hard with some strong leadership.”
Grand Valley, which plays in 1A, dropped to 1-3 overall. Aspen improved to 2-2 overall and will host Delta next week in their Class 2A Western Slope League opener. The Panthers are 4-0 and ranked No. 2 in the state. They beat Bennett, 41-0, on Friday night.
“Delta is a very good football team,” Benson said. “It absolutely gets real. Getting into conference play, everybody is a good football team. There is no question about the strength of this conference.”
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