Joel Reichenberger: Playoffs may have been rough for Rams

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Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat Pilot & Today sports reporter and photographer Joel Reichenberger can be reached at 871-4253 or jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Joel here.

The eight-man football playoffs continued Saturday as eight teams played in the second round.

Soroco, meanwhile, saw its season end three weeks ago. Unable to qualify for the playoffs and playing in 2008 without any conference affiliation, the Rams were ousted before their season even began.

But what if the Rams had really had a shot in 2008?

A 4-4 Soroco High School team might have fallen right on the tournament bubble or might have easily been in, depending on the team's conference.

As miserable as its final years playing 11-man football were, Soroco was too successful to jump right into the 8-man playoffs. Teams dropping down can only be immediately eligible for postseason play if they had a winning percentage under .200. Soroco's was just above, and the school lost a preseason appeal.

Now the Rams will wait until the 2010 season to get a crack at the playoffs. Then, they'll be slotted in a conference, from which the top four finishers are selected for the statewide playoff.

Soroco won't get to choose its affiliation, Athletic Director Andy Johnson said, but it likely will fall into one of two conferences. The Rams struggled against the most likely - the Western division of the West conference. Soroco tore up Nucla on Sept. 20 but lost games to the other three teams currently in the division: Dove Creek, Plateau Valley and Norwood.

A 4-4 season and 1-3 league mark would put the Rams right on the playoff bubble.

Soroco also may be dropped into the Central division of the North Conference. The Rams had much more success against that group, beating up on two of the division's seven teams. Soroco won via rout against both the division's second-place team, Silver State Baptist, and its third-place squad, North Park.

If the Rams' treatment of those two teams was any indication, they'd have found plenty of success and been one of the conference's top contenders entering the postseason.

Once they got to the postseason, things might not have looked so cheery. Only two of Soroco's 2008 opponents made the 16-team tournament.

Dove Creek and Norwood both were handed solid defeats in the first round of the playoffs. Dove Creek, which was the only team to truly dominate Soroco in 2008, fell to perennial eight-man powerhouse Granada, 51-18. Norwood lost to Sanford, 48-8.

All of that, of course, could change if Soroco sees a surge in students in the next year. Johnson said that's not a very serious worry.

"We should be OK, but it's all a numbers game," he said. "I think we'll be all right, but we'll see.

"There's been some disappointment about not being eligible for the post season, but I haven't heard anyone against (moving down). We were happy with our level of play, or competitiveness and everything."

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