Roaring Fork sends message to fledgling Aspen squad
CARBONDALE – The Roaring Fork Rams football team gave Aspen a rude reminder of the chasm between the top and the bottom of the 2A Western Slope Conference.
Aspen, which brought its varsity program back this season after an eight-year absence, won its first game since 1994 last week against Olathe. This week was a different story as the league-leading Rams rolled to a 48-21 victory Friday night at Roaring Fork High School.
Other than the Rams difficulty holding onto the ball, and a power outage that delayed play for 20 minutes, there was little Aspen (1-4 WSL, 1-6 overall) could do to stop Roaring Fork (5-0, 6-1).
“We’re clicking right now,” said Roaring Fork running back Chad Minor. “But we can still step it up a notch and go farther.”
Roaring Fork got off to an ominous start. After a 60-yard opening kickoff return by Minor to the Aspen 30-yard line, the Rams went on to fumble on three of the next four plays. Aspen finally came up with the recovery after a fumble on the exchange on fourth-and-3.
While Roaring Fork was temporarily stalled, it didn’t take long to get started again.
Aspen went three-and-out and was lined up to punt, but a bad snap gave the Rams the ball back on the Aspen 20. A pair of solid plays by the Aspen defensive line pushed the Rams back to the 27 before quarterback Evan Carmichael hit Minor for a 27-yard scoring pass on third-and-17. The Rams wouldn’t give up the lead again.
Minor had the best all-around day for the Rams, running for a team high 74 yards and catching three passes for 38 yards to go along with a solid day of kickoff and punt returns.
It was Carmichael, however, who lifted Roaring Fork to another level.
Following Minor’s touchdown and a punt by Aspen, Carmichael hit receiver Max Green for an 82-yard scoring strike and Green’s extra point put the game essentially out of reach at 14-0 with 6 minutes, 14 seconds left in the first quarter.
“Evan is making really good decisions at quarterback and maturing,” Roaring Fork coach Tory Jensen said. “He’s really taking over the offense.”
Carmichael, who was relieved early in the fourth quarter, finished 12-for-16 for 201 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He also ran for 31 yards.
Running back James Leonard capped a 10-play, 62-yard drive with 2:19 left in the half to put the Rams up 21-0 going into the intermission.
The Roaring Fork defense didn’t allow Aspen deeper than the Ram 48 yard line in the first half and kept up the pressure in the second half.
On the Skiers’ second play from scrimmage in the third quarter junior Taylor Arbany intercepted a Pat Faurer pass and returned it 30 yards for a 28-0 Roaring Fork advantage.
Leonard scored his second touchdown of the night with a 22-yard sweep for a 35-0 lead with 5:29 left in the third quarter.
Ross Velasquez picked off a Faurer attempted screen pass that turned the ball over to the Rams on their own 40-yard line. Kellen Whitworth capped the drive with a 10-yard run and a 42-0 lead with 1:53 left in the third.
Running back Dusty Stutsman supplied the only offense in the game of the Skiers. The ensuing kickoff bounced off the chest of teammate and fellow returner Anders Head, but Stutzman picked up the ball on a bounce and bolted 74 yards for Aspen’s only touchdown against the varsity unit.
Stutzman finished with 143 yards rushing and touchdown three touchdowns. Stutzman scored twice in the fourth quarter with most Ram starters on the bench. Roaring Fork sophomore quarterback hit Jevon Beaudroux for the Rams’ final score of the game.
Roaring Fork, which has had only one conference game this season finish closer than 20 points, faces co-leader Eagle Valley (5-0, 7-0) on the road Friday at 7 p.m.
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Down 14-7 with less than 11 minutes left in regulation, Rifle head coach Todd Casebier decided it was time to deviate from his ground-and-pound offense for a bit of an aerial attack.