Haxtun junior running back Ryan Nelson cuts through the Soroco defense Saturday. The Bulldogs ran big and early on the Rams, racking up a big win in the 8-man cross-divisional football game.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Haxtun junior running back Ryan Nelson cuts through the Soroco defense Saturday. The Bulldogs ran big and early on the Rams, racking up a big win in the 8-man cross-divisional football game.

Soroco football ends season in district playoffs against Haxtun

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— The Soroco High School football team and coach David Bruner knew they didn’t have to uncover some deep secret to find success against Haxtun in the cross-district playoff game Saturday. 

Bruner said countless times that the Rams would have to make the Bulldogs throw the ball and find a way to overcome a distinct size disadvantage. 

The Rams, hosting their first 8-man playoff game, could do neither. 

Haxtun, behind an offensive and defensive line that dwarfed Soroco’s, cruised to a 57-14 win Saturday. 

The Bulldogs scored on five of their first eight drives and their first three of the second half while literally running away with the game. 

Haxtun had 529 yards rushing on 54 carries, and four players eclipsed 100 yards on the ground. 

“I would say we noticed (Soroco’s) size,” Haxtun coach Rod Workman said. “I mean we’re 200 (pounds) or 220 across the front. They just don’t have the size to hang in there with the running game.”

It didn’t help that the Rams were without two starting linemen in Brandyn Leu and Tristan Palyo, who were out with injuries. 

Still, it might not have mattered. 

In the simplest terms, Haxtun was much better than Soroco and far and away the best team the Rams had seen all year. 

“They’re really physical,” Soroco coach David Bruner said. “They manhandled us up front. The games we lost this year were games where they were more physical than us.”

Early in the game, however, it looked as though the two teams would face a shootout. 

The Bulldogs took an early 7-0 lead on a 28-yard touchdown run by Jake Gerk. The Rams responded with a 65-yard touchdown pass from Nic Paxton to AJ Anderson. A failed 2-point conversion made it 7-6. 

From there, it was all Haxtun. Soroco couldn’t muster any semblance of a running game, and Paxton had little time to throw, getting sacked four times in the first quarter. The Bulldogs would score 28 unanswered points to go into halftime up 35-6. 

Other than the one touchdown drive, Soroco’s offense produced four three-and-outs, two turnovers and a turnover on downs in the first half. 

The Rams had minus 20 yards rushing in the first half. 

“I thought we could come out and throw the ball,” Bruner said. “But we didn’t have enough time. Nic didn’t have any time to get anything back there.”

Haxtun scored three more times in the second half before Soroco’s Taylor Hammer broke off a 75-yard run late in the game for the final. 

The loss ends Soroco’s season at 6-3. 

“It’s a step we’ve been taking every year,” Bruner said about hosting a playoff game. “It was good to play at home. The next step is to take the next step of winning this game. But we had a great year.” 

— To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

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