‘New guy’ Bayfield favored in 2A WSC
They’re a returning finalist that brings back 18 seniors, and so, naturally, Bayfield is a favorite to win the Class 2A Western Slope Conference.
Bayfield is the new team in the conference. The “new guy.”
Expect at least some form of hazing by Olathe, a recent conference bully.
Bayfield won back-to-back league titles and produced a combined 21-3 record over the past two seasons. But the Wolverines will look to replace Colt Walker and Aaron Velasquez, a quarterback and running back tandem that combined for almost 3,000 rushing yards last season. Velasquez led all 2A rushers in the state last season with 1,824 yards.
“Every coach is probably picking Bayfield to win the league. If not, they’re dumb,” Corn said. “They had a great run last year and are returning a lot of the same guys.
“For second, I’d probably pick Grand Valley for the same reasons, but the battle for third will be a fight. Gunnison will be good. Mike Sirko will have has guys ready over in Aspen. The 2A league statewide is going to be incredibly deep this year. It’s one of the best years we’ve seen.”
Corn, of course, picked Olathe to finish last in the conference.
“Rebuilding,” Corn wrote in an email, “enough said.”
When told of Corn’s last-place prediction, Basalt coach Carl Frierichs, said: “He said that one year, and they won the state championship.”
Olathe lost many starters, but the Pirates have tradition on their side.
“I really think Olathe is the favorite,” Aspen coach Mike Sirko said. “They won two state titles in the last four years, and they lost a lot, but Olathe just seems. ... they’ve got a good weights program. They’re excited about football. When you’re that successful you get those fringe kids to come out and make a difference, whereas we have so many other sports.”
Aspen, having qualified for the state playoffs the past five seasons, should challenge under Sirko’s veteran coaching, but to what extent?
“You have to have special kids to stick with this old man,” Sirko said, “and listen to this old guy babble.”
Sirko thinks three teams from the conference could qualify for the state playoffs. “Because it’s such a large league,” Sirko said.
The larger conference has led to longer drives, such as Aspen’s expected seven-hour drive to Bayfield on Sept. 21.
Olathe, on the other hand, will host Bayfield on Oct. 19 in what could determine the league title.
“No matter what they say,” Bayfield coach Mike Heide said about Olathe, “anybody that’s won championships and has a great coach with Coach Corn is gonna be good.”
Gunnison coach Bob Howard does not see a clear-cut favorite in the league, citing Basalt’s talented backfield and Aspen’s size and ability to reload quality players.
Pagosa Springs coach Olin Garrison picked his team as middle-of-the-pack.
“It’s kind of a wait-and-see thing right now,” Garrison said. “We’ll see how we develop.”
Olathe went undefeated in the league at 7-0 last season.
“Bayfield and Olathe should be the favorites,” Grand Valley coach Mike Johnson said. “Bayfield because they have a lot of tradition and they just played for a state title. Olathe because they have won our league the past four or five years and they are always well-coached and play tough. I think we have the potential to compete for a league title.”