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Longhorns play long game, not looking beyond Homecoming with Paonia
Basalt High School is ranked #9 in football
HS football
Photo by Luke Rapaport Cole Dombrowski (#4) takes off with the football as Jackson Rapaport provides a key block during the Longhorns’ victory last week against Pagosa Springs. On Friday night, the Homecoming game pits Basalt against the Paonia Eagles.

As the Basalt Longhorns return to their home field after the longest road trip of the season, they are preparing for a Homecoming game matchup with Paonia on Sept. 27.

Of this Homecoming week, Coach Carl Frerichs says, “Coaches always joke that’s our least favorite week of the year, just because there’s so many activities besides football. But we need to make sure we’re focused. Paonia’s a very, very physical team. They’re going to line up very similar to Pagosa” (who Basalt defeated last week).

Frerichs notes, “They run the veer — similar triple-option football, where we’ve got to be held accountable on assignments. Then defensively, they gave us a hard time last year. They’re physical up front, and their #70 (senior Levi Peterson) —  he’s a big, strong, athletic kid.” 

But his Longhorns will be nothing if not ready for the challenge of the Paonia Eagles.

“These guys know it’s one game at a time, one practice at a time. They’re going to be excited to have a home game after last week’s travel. For Homecoming, our team never has a problem getting up, so I don’t think any of these things will be a concern.  It’s just making sure the kids stay focused on their responsibilities during practice, with everything else going on, which is all super fun.”

Asked about what’s coming next, 2A Western Slope League play beginning with Moffat County, Frerichs says, “I think this year’s non-conference games have just shown how well our league is doing.  

“I think we might be the best league in 2A. Delta and Rifle are as good as anyone in the state, they’re probably looking at going for a state championship. Moffat’s 3 and 0 right now with a big double-overtime win (over Battle Mountain). Aspen’s getting healthy and got a win (over Cedaredge), and Coal Ridge – we scrimmaged them in the spring and have seen them in person this fall. They’re a much-improved team, probably better than their 1 and 3 start. All of ’em are going to give us a lot of trouble if we’re not ready to play.”  

The Western Slope League put four of its six members, Basalt, Rifle, Delta and Aspen, into the 2A playoffs a year ago.  

The coach was asked, “What about your own league’s best now being recognized as the best in the state too?”  

Frerichs says, “With as many kids as they (Delta) have returning – they made the playoffs last year, and they probably return about 90 percent of the roster – they’re definitely the team everybody’s shooting for. And Rifle’s always ready to play.  Beating Pueblo County, a tough, physical 3A school, the way they beat them last week (with a final score of 48-22), we’re going to have our hands full. But our team knows if we play our game and do what we’re supposed to do, we’re capable of being with any of these teams on any Friday night, if we’re ready to play.”

Blowout at Pagosa

Last weekend, Basalt’s football Longhorns turned a back and forth battle with a tough opponent into a 39-19 blowout at Pagosa Springs.  

The Longhorns rose to #9 in the CHSAA Class 2A rankings last week, on the strength of their 28-0 pasting of 3A Battle Mountain, the season-opening 29-7 win over Olathe, and the reputation they’ve established since 2016.  

This Homecoming week they remain #9 behind Western Slope League brethren Rifle at #1 and Delta at #2, and expect a tough test from the 1A Paonia Eagles. While the Eagles are 2 and 1 on their season so far, they’ve only scored 34 points, to their opponents’ 61 points. Undefeated Basalt, however, has racked up 96 points to the opposition’s collective 26.

A good part of that margin comes from the hurt Basalt wound up administering to the Pirates. After falling behind early Friday, in a sport where stats show the first scorer usually wins, the Longhorns weren’t deterred by that 6-0 score.  

They showed a resilience both clubs had that night, letting them come back at each other again and again. Pagosa scored first and last on the night, but couldn’t muster a sustained attack against Basalt. The Longhorns won with a final score of 39-19.

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