Thursday, September 21, 2000
Oak Creek Though the rain cleared by halftime and a double rainbow appeared east of Soroco High School's football field, the Rams couldn't find their way to that golden first win.
The Rams lost their homecoming game as the Steamboat Sailors junior varsity football team splashed its way to a 34-6 win.
Soroco head coach Steve Longwell knows a homecoming loss hits you where it hurts, but he still is seeing the positives for his young football team.
Last year, the coach announced that his team would play an independent schedule because the Rams were fielding lots of sophomores. That means it's a reconstructive year where Longwell and the team have to find the little victories to keep them motivated.
"We had one kid who hadn't played all year, but stepped up today and said, 'Coach, I'm ready to play," Longwell said after the game.
That was 112-pound sophomore Brandon Ager, who played his first quarter of varsity football in Thursday's game as a defensive lineman.
"It was cold," he said.
Ager admitted he was a little outmatched on the line.
"But I got in there and made four tackles," he said excitedly.
Those are the type of experiences that Longwell said keep him in the game, even if his team is losing.
"It's the little thing that really get you excited," he said.
The tone of Thursday's game was set right at the kickoff. Steamboat's Preston Stanfill received the kickoff and, after realizing the speed returner, David May, was behind him, Stanfill pitched the ball back.
May then took off on a 70-yard run for a touchdown.
The Sailors didn't look back, following that score with a 25-yard touchdown run by Patrick Rogers late in the first quarter and a touchdown pass from Joel Adams to Cameron Shinabarker in the second quarter.
By halftime, it was 20-0 Sailors.
"We just weren't ready for that counter dive," Longwell said.
Rogers was handed the ball on numerous occasions with a misdirection play that sucked the defensive line to one side of the field while the ball was handed off on the other side.
"I don't want to make any excuses, but that the type of thing happens when you have young guys in there," Longwell said.
Rogers scored with the counter run at 6:55 in the third quarter, running 45 yards into the end zone.
But the Rams did make dent in the Sailors late in that same quarter. After Soroco quarterback Brandon Himmerite connected with Dustin Neelis for a 20-yard gain to make it fourth down and 10 to go, Neelis drew a pass interference call that brought the Rams into Sailors territory.
But Soroco couldn't make it happen on offensive and Matt Hayne came in to punt. A perfect kick by Hayne put the Sailors on their own 5-yard line.
Two plays later, at 3:19 in the third quarter, Steamboat mishandled a handoff and Soroco's Casey Means found the ball on the ground in the end zone for the Rams' first touchdown since the first game of the season.
That gave the Rams some momentum and after the kickoff, the home team forced the Sailors to go for a fourth-and-11 on Soroco's 42-yard line with 19 seconds left in the third quarter. But a well-blocked sweep ran by Patrick McCahon, 42 yards to the end zone, drenched any hope of comeback.
That made it 34-6, which was the score when the gun fired.
"Things went great," Sailors coach Mark Drake said. "Our kids came out and played well."
Despite the loss, Longwell was proud.
"This actually was a 100 percent improvement from last week," he said.
The Rams record goes to 0-4 while Steamboat junior varsity betters itself to 3-0.
To reach Doug Crowl call 871-4206 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org