Through three league games, Meeker and Paonia have separated themselves in the Class 1A Western Slope standings, punishing opponents with superior size and strength en route to matching undefeated league (3-0) and overall (5-0) records.
Game planning for either team isn't necessarily what is difficult. What is tough for opposing coaches and players is stopping a ground game they know is coming.
Soroco didn't stop Meeker when the teams squared off Sept. 19, but the Rams nearly contained the Cowboys to the point of upsetting them.
Other than Paonia's tendency to throw the football more than Meeker, Soroco football coach Gary Heide sees similarities between the two teams, as his Rams prepare to face the second league power at 7:30 p.m. today in Paonia.
Tonight, Soroco hopes to correct the mistakes it made against Meeker.
"It will be the same type of physical game," Heide said. "We get our second chance for that. I think they are looking forward to playing Paonia."
The Rams' first-string defense has surrendered four touchdowns all season. The offense is moving the ball better behind quarterback Kory Babcock and an array of backs that attack a defense with a combination of power, speed and elusiveness, Heide said.
In previous years, the Rams entered games against the Eagles as a heavy underdog, but if Paonia disregards Soroco as it looks ahead to next week's game against Meeker, it may find itself primed for an upset.
But Soroco's near upset of Meeker likely was the last time the Rams will sneak up on any opponent for the remainder of the season. At 1-2 in the league, Soroco has a postseason shot.
"I'm glad to have that league win behind us," Heide said. "Had we lost to Plateau Valley, it would have been a huge letdown. We still have hope for the postseason. If we can win three of the last four, we will have a good chance. If we win the last four, we definitely are in. After we lost that close one to Meeker, we knew we had a chance."
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.