Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Soroco football coach Gary Heide has heard the bad news about his team's next opponent.
He has listened as others have told him about the state's top ranked team, the Akron Rams.
He has been informed about Akron's top player, Aaron Lambertson, who has rushed for more than 1,200 yards in the first nine games of the season. He also knows that Akron has won its last 35 games, including nine regular-season games this year and two straight state championship games.
Heide has heard it all.
But the news has not dampened his or his players' excitement about getting the chance to play in the post-season game.
"As a coach, these are the opportunities you dream of," Heide said. "A chance to play one of the top teams in the state in the playoffs -- what could be better?"
So the Soroco coach, and his players, will head to the Eastern Plains this weekend to take on Akron (9-0) in the first round of the state playoffs. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday in the small town about 30 miles east of Fort Morgan.
"Our team is excited just to have made it this far," Heide said. "We are going down there with the same attitude we've had for every other game this season -- to go out there and have fun."
The coach said anything could happen, and while he isn't predicting a win, he said his team had the skills and heart necessary to pull off an upset. "Every team that makes the playoffs deserves to be there," Akron coach Brian Christensen said. "You have to approach every game with the same attitude no matter how good they are. ... And from what I've seen, Soroco has a very good team."
Heide knows the chances of Soroco upsetting the defending state champs at home are not good, but he also has coached long enough to know that an upset is possible.
"That's why we play the games," Heide said. "In football, you never know who is going to win until it's over."
Akron swept the highly competitive North Central League this year, picking up wins over Lyons and Holyoke in the process.
"We are not giving up anything to this team," Heide said. "We are going to give it our best effort, and my players fully expect to upset this team."
Holyoke coach Adam Archibeque said the key to beating Akron was stopping its single-wing offense and high-powered backfield, which includes Lambertson and fellow back Jordan Reid.
Archibeque has faced Akron for the past three years after taking the head coaching spot.
"If you hope to beat this team you gotta stop one kid (Lambertson)," Archibeque said. "We've been trying to do it for three years."
Archibeque said he was happy to see Soroco make the playoffs but was skeptical about the team's chances. He thinks that the eventual state champion will come out of the North Central League.
If Christensen is that confident, he isn't letting it out.
"I think winning the tiebreaker will be a big boost for Soroco," Christensen said. "I expect them to be ready to go when they come here. It should be a very competitive game."
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