Old rivals meet again.
Former Western Slope League foes Basalt and Bayfield will meet at 11 a.m. Saturday at Wolverine Country Stadium in Bayfield for the quarterfinals of the Colorado High School Activities Association Class 2A State Football Playoffs.
The two teams met in 2012 and 2013 as league rivals, and Bayfield won both games against the Longhorns, who also wear purple.
Two record-setting winning streaks will be on the line. Bayfield has won 18 games in a row at home to set a new program record, and BHS has lost only three home games in 39 contests since 2010. Meanwhile, Basalt has won nine consecutive games for the longest winning streak in school history.
Basalt beat Salida 28-22 last week for its second playoff win in school history and first since 1979. The school, which opened in 1963, has never won a state title in any sport.
For No. 3 Bayfield (10-0), No. 6 Basalt (9-1) represents the next chapter in its quest to get back to the state championship game.
"What happens when you get a top-six team in the state is you see they have a really balanced group of players," BHS head coach Gary Heide said. "They have no one weak position. They are very good in every area."
Two elite rushing attacks will meet Saturday. Basalt will enter the contest with 2,681 rushing yards as a team, with Noah Williams leading the way with 1,390 yards and 26 touchdowns on an average of nearly 9 yards per carry. Bayfield has rushed for 2,549 yards as a team for a total of 29 rushing touchdowns. Carl Heide leads the Wolverines with 822 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground, as the Wolverines spread their workload to five different backs.
Bayfield has faced four running backs the last two seasons who have already run for 1,000 yards before meeting the Wolverines. The Bayfield defense hasn't allowed any of those runners to go for more than 50 yards.
"Every time we see it, we see it as a challenge," said Bayfield senior Hunter Killough, who has 577 rushing yards of his own along with a team-high 113 tackles from his linebacker position. "We get excited and push ourselves that much harder because we know they're bringing in good backs and wanting to challenge our run defense. With our defense, it's a good show for everyone."
Both teams also have steady passing attacks, though the Wolverines' is a bit better. Trevor Reuss, a junior, has passed for 979 yards and 11 touchdowns to only three interceptions for Basalt. Meanwhile, Bayfield junior Hayden Farmer has passed for 1,639 yards and a single-season Bayfield record 25 touchdown passes to nine interceptions.
"They run a great scheme," coach Heide said of Basalt. "They've got more than the one running back, and I'm really impressed with their quarterback. He's also a linebacker, and I can tell a leader on that field. He's a great competitor offensively and defensively."
Basalt hasn't seen a defense like Bayfield's, though, including in a 34-14 season-opening loss to Class 3A power Rifle. The Wolverines have only allowed 49 points in 10 games and have recorded three consecutive shutouts. According to Bayfield football historian Dan Ford, the program record for consecutive shutouts is four, set in 1964 when the Wolverines opened the season with four in a row.
Opponents have been so afraid to run against the Wolverines this year that teams without great quarterback play have tried to pass early against Bayfield. That hasn't worked either, as evidenced last week when No. 14 Elizabeth fell 51-0 to the Wolverines with four interceptions and six total turnovers.
As a team, Bayfield has 25 interceptions and seven fumble recoveries. With 46 sacks, led by Ryan Phelps' 15 in only 10 games, the Wolverines have battered opposing quarterbacks, causing many of those interceptions.
Bayfield preys on opponents in the second half. After playing a bruising first half, teams have crumbled in the third and fourth quarters. With every player on the field ready to deliver a big hit, the tenacity of the Wolverines is tough to keep up with.
"It helps the physicality when guys are blocking hard down the field and trying to finish the other team and wear them down by half," Killough said.
Dax Snooks, who set a single-game interception record for Bayfield last week with four and is one receiving touchdown away from matching the single-season school record of 11, said the team is confident after watching film.
"We're looking at their players, running backs and the pass and what their game plan is," Snooks said. "Overall, we're feeling confident."