Tough-luck Rams prep for Mustangs

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If you go

What: Soroco vs. West Grand football

When: 7:30 p.m. today

Where: Soroco High School, 305 S. Grant St.

Other: The Soroco High School volleyball team plays West Grand at 6 p.m. today as part of the homecoming festivities.

— It's not exactly how Soroco High School football coach David Bruner drew it up.

In his first year at the helm - and with an offense designed to make the scoreboard flicker like a firecracker - Bruner has had to take a different approach with a small and inexperienced team.

While most teams in the league have a strong contingent of juniors and seniors, Bruner's had to adjust on the fly and rely on freshmen.

"We're super young, but the kids have been great," Bruner said. "I've been real pleased with practice this week. Their spirits are high."

After the first three games claimed several Soroco (1-2 overall, 0-1 in league play) players to injuries, the Rams face their biggest test of the young season at 7:30 p.m. today when they host West Grand.

After losing Alex Estes and Dennis Morgan - two of Soroco's top players - to knee injuries, Bruner said he plans to suit up 17 players, nine of whom are freshmen.

"You just have to be patient," Bruner said. "It's a lot of teaching because for a lot them, this is the first time they've done football. They've improved every day at practice, but we're young and we're going to make mistakes."

Soroco will have to limit its mistakes with a pesky West Grand (2-1, 1-0) team coming to town.

West Grand is coming off a 20-7 win against preseason league favorite Hayden, and the Mustangs feature the top quarterback in the league in Mackenzie Widener.

"I don't know a lot about them," Bruner said. "But they beat Hayden last week, so they must have something."

That something comes in a balanced offence led by Widener.

Last week, West Grand controlled the tempo of play against Hayden, putting up more than 100 yards passing and 150 yards rushing.

While Bruner knows playing with such a young team can cause some problems, he said he's been happy with the progress the team has made in the first three weeks of the season, especially on the offensive side of the ball, where his spread option formation relies so much on timing.

"We're still a step away from making those big plays you do in that offense," Bruner said. "When we hit that step we're really going to take off."

Bruner said one area the Rams have to get better at is stopping the run - particularly the option - and getting the defense off the field on third downs.

"It comes down to us moving the ball on offense, figuring out West Grand's 6-2 defense, stopping the option and the power game on defense," Bruner said. "We've got to make them throw the ball against us."

With the homecoming festivities, Bruner said he's seen a focused team ready to play and determined to get back into the win column.

"Homecoming gets the kids hyped up, but they've kept it in perspective," Bruner said. "Of course, they're going to come out and be fired up about homecoming.

"But I think the kids have something on their backs, want to come out and play well and have a chance to win the game."

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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