Photo by Joel Reichenberger
Soroco sophomore Matthew Regan tosses a pass to Nic Paxton last week in a loss to West Grand. That setback ramped up the importance of the 7 p.m. Friday night game in Oak Creek against North Park. A win would mean at least one more home game for the Rams while a loss likely would result in a daunting road trip to open postseason play.
Steamboat Springs It wasn’t the ideal weekend for either the Hayden or Soroco high school football teams. Both entered Friday’s games with the chance to win their divisions, but neither proved up to the task, each falling in lopsided games.
Now there’s little margin for error if the teams are to keep their postseason hopes alive. The Tigers have two regular season games remaining, and they should be favored to win both. Soroco has just one game left on its schedule.
Both teams play at 7 p.m. Friday on their home fields.
For Hayden, it’s all about bettering the playoff resume. The Tigers’ postseason hopes hinge on being one of nine wild card teams selected to fill out the 16-team Class 1A bracket.
If the Tigers win out — Friday against Meeker and next week at Lake County — they’re likely to be league runner-up, which doesn’t guarantee a bid. It does help, though.
With an 5-4 overall record — including 5-2 against Class 1A competition — and a 4-1 record in the league, the Tigers certainly have a chance. They were given a wild card spot last season with nearly identical credentials.
“We might be able to sneak in there,” Hayden coach Shawn Baumgartner said. “There are a bunch of teams that will be sitting at 5-4 or 6-3. Generally our league tends to get a few more teams in, so hopefully we can get in there ahead of some of the others.
“The kids know what’s at stake, what we need to do in the next two weeks to give ourselves a shot.”
For Soroco, Friday’s 7 p.m. game against North Park will be the last before the rest of the season becomes win-or-go-home. Winning that North Park game can give the Rams a big advantage, however.
With a win, Soroco likely would finish second in the 8-man north-central division. The 16-team playoff field for 8-man football is decided by the results from four cross-district games, which would take place Oct. 28 or Oct. 29. As a second-place finisher, Soroco likely would play at home against the winner of a Friday night game between north-plains foes Haxtun and Caliche.
A Friday night loss could send the squad on the road to either Dayspring Christian or Merino, both of which are 8-man powerhouses.
“We have to rebound and have a good week of practice,” said Soroco coach David Bruner, whose Rams fell 52-12 Friday against West Grand. “We can’t roll over, because then we’ll lose again and have to travel seven hours to play. (North Park) is a really important game for us, and the kids realize that.”
Other critical games
■ Steamboat Springs High School soccer vs. Moffat County, 6 p.m. Thursday in Steamboat Springs
The Sailors hope to get a win after a 3-3 tie with the Bulldogs earlier this season.
■ Steamboat Springs volleyball vs. Eagle Valley, 5 p.m. in Steamboat Springs
The Sailors will see league celler-dwellers Eagle Valley and Moffat County this week, and a win against Eagle Valley could bump the team right back near the top of the muddled Western Slope League standings.
— To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com