The Soroco football team hasn't defeated Paonia since coach Gary Heide took over three years ago, but the Rams are hoping to end that trend at their homecoming game tonight.
"This is a big football game for our program," Heide said. "Traditionally we have played well in homecoming. I'm really looking forward to the game, and I know our team is, too."
Soroco is 3-3 overall and 1-2 in Western Slope League play. Paonia is 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the league, so a Rams win would push them past the Eagles in the standings.
Paonia is one of the so-called "big three" in the league, along with Meeker and Rangely. They are larger schools that dropped down into Class A several years ago. In past years, the name itself was intimidating, but all have been beaten at least once this season. Paonia has been beaten twice.
Soroco had its chance to defeat Meeker on Oct. 1 but came up short, 16-0.
"We outplayed them in the first half, but we committed three costly turnovers that took everything away from us," Heide said. "This is our second chance. We can still get the same positive outcomes."
To leave with a win, Heide said the Rams have to eliminate turnovers. They also have to contain Paonia's veer option offense, which includes a dangerous passing game.
"I think our run defense all year has been spectacular," Heide said. "Our pass defense has been a problem, so we are looking to take away the long ball. The next three quarterbacks we face can throw the ball long. I know they've seen us and we are (susceptible) to long passes. We have to make adjustments and be ready."
Simulating an opposing team's starting lineup with the reserves is often difficult no matter the offense or school, but the Rams are in a unique situation with limited bodies available to serve on the scout team. Instead, they have spent this week breaking down film and getting as much mental work in against the veer option as possible.
Hayden did an excellent job containing Paonia's offense in its 27-0 shutout win Sept. 24. Heide has game film from that contest, and he said several things stood out while watching the footage.
"They hit them so hard they had some turnovers," Heide said. "Hayden didn't allow the big play."
Soroco will look to be just as aggressive tonight.
"This is a football game for us to win -- it doesn't matter who is coming to town," Heide said.
Kickoff between Soroco and Paonia is at 7:30 p.m. today at Soroco High School in Oak Creek.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org