The Soroco Rams began Friday night's league opener against the Grand Valley Cardinals looking sharp, hungry and confident. Perhaps the Rams were too confident, senior tail back C.J. Remick said after the Cardinals shut out his team 7-0.
"This game meant everything in the world to us," Remick said emotionally, looking down. "We should have won, but I think we came out a little bit too overconfident."
The Soroco team was excited when its defense held Grand Valley to three three-and-outs in the first half, while its offense moved the ball well, led by the rushing of Jack Means, Remick and quarterback Kory Babcock.
Still, the Rams could not finish a scoring drive. The closest they got to a score was when Babcock threw a 12-yard pass to William Ford at the 5-yard line. Just after catching the ball, Ford dropped it, and the Cardinals recovered.
"That was a big play for us, but it really hurt," Soroco coach Gary Heide said.
Grand Valley had similar trouble scoring -- or simply getting by the Soroco defense -- in the first half.
The second half was another story. The Cardinals opened the second half with a 15-play drive of solid rushing, capped off by a 5-yard touchdown run by senior running back Nick Babler, who also kicked the extra point. Babler was the lead rusher for the Cardinals with 136 yards on 36 carries.
Babler said it was not easy running against the Rams' defense.
"Their defense was great," Babler said. "They've got a lot of big, tough kids. I thought we would be able to run a little more outside, but they wouldn't let us."
Soroco held Grand Valley out of the end zone in the first quarter on a goal line stand that Heide said gave the rest of the team a boost.
Soroco followed Grand Valley's scoring drive with a 25-yard drive that ended with a turnover after a stuffed fourth-down rushing attempt.
Two plays later, though, Babler fumbled, giving the Rams another chance, but they turned the ball over again with the Ford fumble.
Defense was definitely the strongest facet of the Soroco squad. Besides the goal-line stand, several tackles were made for losses, including two sacks from Remick and Matt Iacovetto.
"Our defense gave us plenty of opportunities to win," Heide said. "We just had some tough breaks. I think they fought like men the whole time."
"I'm proud of every one of you," Heide said to the team on the 50-yard line after the game. "Don't get down on yourselves for this. Don't believe for one minute we can't upset the big dog. We're not going to give up. We're going to make ourselves proud."