Steamboat Springs It's a big weekend in Oak Creek, and the Soroco football team is ecstatic to be a part of the festivities.
At 5 p.m. Saturday in South Routt Stadium, the Rams will open the 2002 season at the varsity level for the first time in two seasons. The timing couldn't be more perfect for a home game. The Labor Day weekend celebrations begin Saturday morning in Oak Creek, and those attending the party are strongly urged to put some Soroco football on their to-do list in the afternoon.
"We're pretty excited about it," Rams coach Gary Heide said. "It's a big weekend in Oak Creek."
It's a big game as well, and Heide has been delighted with the progress Soroco has shown within the past week.
"I'm pleased with the way they've picked up the offense," Heide said. "I'm pleased with the way the linemen, the backs and the QB are working together. It looked like we were jumping around a couple weeks ago, but I really had to say few things on how to run each play (at the Aug. 24 scrimmages)."
Heide did single out one player in particular. Junior quarterback Kory Babcock, who originally played wide receiver and cornerback, has been behind center for a whole two weeks, and Heide said his young signal caller has seized control of the huddle and grabbed the attention of his coaches and teammates.
"The kids really seem to respond to him," Heide said.
Senior Josh Iacovetto echoed the words of his coach.
"I think Kory's been a better quarterback," Iacovetto said. "He can scramble and take a hit. He has some kinks to work out but he hasn't played it that long."
Defensively, Heide introduced a new scheme this season with the hope that his quick, athletic players might be able to maximize their potential on that side of the ball despite being undersized, essentially putting three linebackers on the line then running stunts and blitzes with their speed.
On the Aug. 24 scrimmages in Steamboat against the Steamboat and Middle Park junior varsity squads, Heide's expectations of what the Rams could be on defense were realized.
"We had envisioned that we had a smaller, quicker team and that will indeed be our strength," he said. "Like any team, there are some weaknesses, but for our kids to move quick and elude people is something we're going to try to do."
Senior corner Dustin Neelis likes the new defense. A big fan of hitting anyone hard even if it's a teammate Neelis feels an opportunistic defense hungry to create turnovers is perfect for the Rams. He wants to start padding his stats on Saturday.
"If I don't get a good hit, I'd like to get an interception," he said. "I did it in like the fifth play of the game last year against Rifle."
Heide and his players are expecting a mini-version of Rifle's varsity squad Saturday, albeit a more unrefined one, which may work to Soroco's advantage. Heide said he plans on seeing the I-formation on offense and four and five man fronts on defense.
From playing Rifle's junior varsity in the past, Neelis remembers not seeing much of an aerial attack.
"It kind of ruins the game," the cornerback said. "I'd like to make up for it with a fumble (recovery)."
On offense, senior Tyson Gilleland said the Rams would like to come out and take people by surprise and throw some quick points on the scoreboard.
Judging by the crowds estimated to be in Oak Creek on Saturday, those startled by changes within the Rams could be from both Rifle and South Routt.
To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org