Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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It had been multiple years since I’d covered a Soroco High School football game.
If memory serves, it was an 11-man game against Eagle Valley’s junior varsity three years ago.
Prior to that, I’d seen Soroco on the wrong end of many tilts.
But Friday, after three years away, I was able to get down to Soroco to see the team’s 49-12 homecoming win against Gilpin County.
Here’s saying it won’t be another three years.
There may be nothing better than small-town football, especially when the team is good.
And Soroco is good.
After years of being on the wrong end of scores like 49-12, the Rams matter again.
The defense is tough. It’s hard to imagine any team in 8-man football having a better pair of defensive ends than the Rams do in Ben and David Strait. Add in a bunch of other good athletes, and the Rams defense can win games by itself.
Offensively, the Rams aren’t quite there, but there are good enough players on the field to keep Soroco in the game.
But the glorious thing about small town football isn’t always on the field.
It’s hard to match the atmosphere. Friday was homecoming, which usually draws more fans than usual. Still, Soroco’s game-day atmosphere is hard to duplicate.
It’s like any small town that cares for its sports teams. Things shut down, people show up, they stay, and it feels like the games matter to many more people than the players.
Friday, cars lined the hills adjacent to the field. The big S across the field lit up. A semi’s horn announced Soroco scores. The announcer had a hometown bias and no regrets about it. The stands were packed, for the most part.
Even in the second half, when the rain started coming in sideways and the Rams had made it a running clock with a 49-0 lead, the fans stayed.
In town, there wasn’t much going on, seeing as how it seemed everyone in town was at the game.
That’s what Friday nights are supposed to be about. As much as football matters on the field, everything that surrounds it makes Friday nights what they are.
Add in that Soroco likely will make the 8-man playoffs and have a chance to host a home playoff game, and it just makes it all the better.
It’s hard to not imagine the Rams as a top-10 team in 8-man football. At a huge game at 7 p.m. Friday at No. 9 West Grand — that could determine a league champion and possibly who gets a home playoff game — the atmosphere will be tough to beat.
West Grand will shut down, Soroco fans will travel, the stands will be full, the weather will be pure football and the game most likely will come down to the fourth quarter.
That’s what Friday night football is supposed to be.
— To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org