There was nothing fun or surprising about either team’s game plan. And in that situation, when Xs and Os are unlikely to win the game, it mostly comes down to who wants it more. On Saturday it was the football team of Basalt High School.
Hosting No. 2 Rifle, the top-ranked Longhorns posted a surprise 38-7 shellacking to the Bears in the Class 3A West showdown, a game likely to have significant repercussions for the rapidly approaching post-season.
I felt like our kids were doing their job, and they were doing exceptionally well, said Basalt coach Carl Frerichs. Really, it’s hats off to the kids. They are the ones that fly around. When it’s football you can queue up whatever you want but it really comes down to the child’s will and I thought our kids loved it.
Saturday’s game was certainly structured as arguably the best game of the regular season in Class 3 As a one-time spring season, as it featured the two best pre-season teams and two of the favorites who likely topped the 16-team standings. The last time the teams played way back on November 16, 2019, Basalt beat Rifle 21-14 dramatically in double overtime to advance to the 2A state semi-finals.
The highly anticipated rematch was hardly a thriller, with BHS taking a 24-0 lead at half time in a game the Bears were never a part of.
So proud of this children’s discipline. During the practice week, they called in like that, Frerichs said. Against those teams from the higher echelons it all comes down to discipline.
The rifle led by freshman head coach Todd Casebier, one of the more experienced and successful coaches in the United States on multiple previous stops, was unusually sloppy from the start. A cushioned kick in the early minutes resulted in a field goal from Basalt after a quarter and a 3-0 score.
The game remained relatively slow until late in the second quarter before the wheels for Rifle came off just before half time. Gavin Webb started running back in place of the injured Cole Dombrowski broke loose on a 20-meter touchdown run to make it 10-0 with Basalt at 3:36 to half-time.
Moments later, Basalts Rulbe Alvarado got the first of his two interceptions, resulting in a 25-yard TD run by Webb for a 17-0 lead. Before Rifle could go to the locker room, which is just the end of the end zone in this COVID season, BHS quarterback Matty Gillis hooked up with Sam Sherry on a TD pass and 19 yards catch with just seconds left in the quarter and the defeat had begun.
Hoping to start the second half with a splash, Rifle came out flat instead. A quick punt from the Bears led to a short TD run by Gillis, which was set up by a 60-yard Webb run. Basalt tackled the final score with about nine minutes to play, a short TD run by Trevin Beckman.
Guns’ lone points came on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Gavin Peterson to Embrey Marantino with nine seconds remaining.
You start looking at the playoffs and all that stuff, it makes a huge difference, Frerichs said of the win. Especially now that we’re on the Western Slope, it makes a huge difference if we can’t get that home advantage and we want to be at home.
The route over Rifle should firmly entrench Basalt in that number 1 spot and keep it as the 3A front runner. With only a six-game regular season this spring, teams are officially halfway through their seasons after this week.
The Bears dropped to 2-1 and came solo to third place in the eight-man 3A West. All five teams under Rifle have at least two losses in three games.
The top two places are held by Basalt and Glenwood Springs, both 3-0, who will play against each other next Friday-evening in Basalt. Frerichs came by to see Glenwood and coach Pat Engle roll over Coal Ridge on Friday, a 42-12 victory for the Demons.
Pat lets those guys fly around. They look good. They look physical, Frerichs said. In a lot of spring football, it seems like everyone is in line and running straight at you, so it’s not much forward passing. We tell the kids all the time that it is your will to get to the ball. I think that will also be the key on Friday night.
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