Soroco High School Rams football players are ready to rumble. They'll get their chance at 1 p.m. today, when they open their season at Rifle.
Coach Gary Heide said he expects the football team to be competitive and capable of great things this year.
"I think our season it going to turn out better then I expected," he said.
Heide said the offseason was a good predictor of how the season was going to shape up. He said most of the players were really good about showing up for practices, lifting weights and attending a summer football camp in Boulder.
"This, by far, was the most successful offseason I've seen," he said.
The team has only three returning seniors: Nick Rangel, Jesus Garcia and Ben Crawford. There also are three seniors new to the team.
Heide said he expects Rangel and Crawford to do very well this season.
"Ben is pound for pound a real tough kid. He gives 110 percent all the time," he said.
Team practices have been upbeat and players are eager to start the season, Heide said.
The team has 31 players this year -- the biggest football squad Heide has coached during his four years at Soroco.
He thinks the team's strengths are in the backfield and on the offensive line. There also is a new quarterback -- Johnny DeCosta -- whom Heide is eager to watch develop.
"He'll take his lumps and keep going. He'll be a real strength this season," he said.
"I'm excited for this year. I have been waiting a long time to play," DeCosta said.
DeCosta said he thinks the team will be really good and definitely better than most people think.
"We're a young team," he said, "but there are a lot of guys who had good experience last year."
DeCosta has played football since the seventh grade and has made it a practice throughout the years to attend Soroco football games to watch the players.
"There is a lot of pressure, but I think sometimes it helps you play better," he said.
Heide said the team's first few games will be a good indicator of where it will stand in the league. He sees West Grand, Grand Valley, Hayden, Meeker, Rangely and Paonia as the toughest competition.
"We'll find out real quick where we stand in the league from the results of our first two games," he said.
Although the team is starting with a new core of players, Heide thinks the team has a shot at making states if it wins one or two of the first three games.
"Overall, I feel really good about this team," he said. "We're all 2005 Rams. There is no difference between us."
Heide also is glad he has coaching support from assistant coach Devin DuPree and volunteer coaches Andy Reust and Don Alperti.
"The knowledge these fellows have is instrumental in the development of both team and myself," he said. "We're definitely getting things rolling."
-- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234
or e-mail email@example.com