2011 Rams football schedule
Oak Creek Soroco High School sophomore Ian Palyo didn’t even know for sure he was going to play Friday night as the Rams opened their season at home against Nucla. He certainly didn’t know he was going to be the star.
The running back said he’ll never forget the night, in which he helped his team to a second-half comeback and a 44-18 victory, or the feeling of his first varsity touchdown, a rumbling five-yard drive through the left side of his team’s offensive line that put Soroco ahead for good midway through the third quarter.
“It hurt,” he said, grinning wide after the game. “They tackled me, and I fell right on my helmet.”
Winning has a way of making those minor pains go away, and after Friday night’s game, the Rams were feeling great. Turnovers, penalties and an elusive Nucla running back dictated the first two quarters, but a powerful running game and a speedy defense decided the game in the second half.
“That was a good start,” Soroco coach David Bruner said. “This showed that these kids have been around. They weren’t down and out, and at halftime they knew in the second half their conditioning would pay.”
Nucla started the game with a talented backfield tandem that burned Soroco repeatedly. Quarterback Tray Sickles and running back Chad Stoner stretched the defense wide and had little trouble finding big holes.
Stoner scored twice and Sickles once as Nucla took a 12-8 lead into halftime and grabbed a 18-16 advantage afterward.
Sickles left the game with cramps; however, and the magic drained from his team.
“We had a couple of drives where we didn’t punch it in, then when Tray went out, we deflated quite a bit,” Nucla coach Kelly Arnold said. “Plus, Soroco’s a good team. They came out, changed it up and scored when they needed to. That was the big difference.”
That change came first in the way of Palyo and a renewed focus on running from the Rams. He rumbled off the left side of the line all through the second half, wearing out an already thin Mustang defense.
Soroco wasted little time retaking the lead and putting the game away. Junior quarter Nic Paxton scored with a 43-yard run to open the third quarter. Palyo’s first of two touchdowns gave Soroco the lead, and two more Paxton touchdowns — one run from 10 yards and another from 42 — finished things off.
Paxton had four scores — three on the ground — and 259 total yards, 164 of them rushing. Palyo had 101 yards on 16 carries and the first two touchdowns of his varsity career.
The defense, meanwhile, didn’t give up a first down after Nucla’s last touchdown.
“The team blocked real and made good holes, and the enthusiasm was great,” Palyo said. “Everyone was happy. Even when we were down, we kept a positive attitude.”
First downs: 17
Yards passing: 95
Total yards: 338
First downs: 13
Yards passing: 29
Total yards: 405
SCORE BY QUARTERS
N — 9:22 Chad Stoner 8-yard run. (Run failed.)
S — 7:12 Ryan Jeep 15-yard pass from Nic Paxton. (Paxton run.)
N — 0:44 Tray Sickles 40-yard run. (Run failed.)
S — 11:27 Paxton 43-yard run. (Jeep pass from Paxton.)
N — 8:29 Stoner 1-yard run. (Run failed.)
S — 3:04 Ian Palyo 5-yard run. (Taylor Lipse pass from Paxton.)
S — 1:12 Paxton 10-yard run. (Paxton run.)
S — 6:46 Palyo 10-yard run. (Run failed.)
S — 4:30 Paxton 42-yard run. (Pass failed.)
N — Chad Stoner 35-166, 2 TD; Tray Sickles 10-89, 1 TD, Chris Ray 2-0, Matt Larson 5-(-8)
S — Nic Paxton 16-164, 3 TD; Ian Palyo 16-101, 2 TD; Joey Anderson 3-0, Taylor Hammer 1-2.
N — Sickles 3-12, 24 yards; Stoner 1-2, 5 yards.
S — Paxton 6-15-1 95 yards, 1 TD.
N — Stoner, 3-24; Danny Harris 1-5.
S — Ryan Jeep 3-52, 1 TD; Taylor Lipsie 1-13; Hammer 1-4, Anderson 1-26.