Skiers tough defense, turnovers bury Rams
ASPEN, Colorado”Trick or treat?
Friday night at Aspen High School against visiting Roaring Fork, the Skiers football team handed out both.
Aspen blew open a tight seven-point game with two minutes to go in the first half when sophomore Nicky Ufkes took a handoff from Beau Seguin on a designed reverse, then pulled up short of the line of scrimmage to heave a 32-yard strike to a wide-open Walker Moriarty in the end zone.
The gadget play put Roaring Fork on the ropes going into the locker room at intermission. In the second half, the tough running of Seguin and a swarming Skiers defense ” which forced three Rams turnovers ” finished the job in a 35-14 Aspen win.
After two tough losses to ranked teams on the road, the Skiers were happy to get back to treating their home fans to post-game victory chants.
“We all played to our potential tonight,” said Skiers senior defensive end Tommy Mines, who tied with line mate Curtis Berglund for a team-high 10 tackles. “It felt great. We needed to rebound.”
Skiers coach Mike Sirko said he was proud of his team for showing some resiliency after a slow start. He attributed some of Aspen’s early first-half lapses ” which included penalties and busted assignments on defense ” to players having two days off from school earlier in the week.
“We didn’t have that fire in our belly at the start, but the kids played well and we ended up pulling this out,” Sirko said. “Give credit to Roaring Fork. They’ve got some big boys and they’re well coached. We’ve got to come out more prepared for our next game.”
Seguin finished the night with 21 carries for 212 yards and four touchdowns ” upping his school record total to 25 with two regular season games to go. Ufkes, to go with his touchdown pass, also had four carries for 32 yards and two catches for 37 yards.
Skiers quarterback Anderson Cole finished 5-for-6 passing for 100 yards.
Roaring Fork’s offensive numbers were aided by a no-huddle fourth-quarter drive that ended with a two-yard Ryan Weimer touchdown run to trim Aspen’s lead to 21.
Weimer completed eight passes for 201 yards, but also threw a key interception to Ufkes which set up Aspen’s touchdown right before the half.
Roaring Fork’s Michael Black had five catches for 56 yards and Dana Holley had four grabs for 104 yards, while Soren Phibbs led the Rams on the ground with 24 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown.
Roaring Fork coach Greg Holley said it wasn’t Aspen’s trickery on offense which turned the game, but his own team’s inability to pick up some key first downs and move the chains.
The Rams failed to answer Aspen’s second touchdown, turning the ball over on downs at the Skiers’ 26 when Phibbs was swarmed under on a fourth-and-1 play.
Aspen fumbled the ball back five plays later, but then Weimer threw his interception.
“We were feeling pretty good, but it doesn’t help any when you can’t pick up two fourth-and-1s,” he said. “You just really want to pound the ball in that situation, and if we can’t pick up a first down, then I don’t think we deserve to win.”
Seguin threw an interception, too, early in the third quarter on another gadget play, but the Rams couldn’t capitalize. Holley fumbled a pitch on the ensuing drive and Aspen’s Taylor Mayer dove on the loose ball.
The win improved Aspen to 6-2 overall and 3-2 in the 2A Western Slope, while Roaring Fork fell to 3-5 overall and 2-3 in league.
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Amid hundreds of cleat-footed little leaguers casually gathered along the first baseline, the glare of parents’ sunglasses deflecting the early morning sun, coach Troy Phillips began a trip down memory lane.