Despite lopsided loss last time, Soroco aims for West Grand in state football semifinals | SteamboatToday.com

Despite lopsided loss last time, Soroco aims for West Grand in state football semifinals

Soroco’s Schuyler Carlson, left, and Kendall Hood celebrate a defensive stop Saturday against Mancos.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — There are no excuses, the Rams say.

The Soroco High School football team lost on Oct. 19 playing at home against West Grand, 54-0, a thorough, first-minute-to-last, end zone-to-end zone manhandling.

No excuses, they say.

But, the Rams say there were reasons, from sprained ankles to twisted knees, from poor decisions by coaches and players and even some bad luck, and it’s in examining those reasons the team hopes to find the confidence to extend what's already been a magical postseason ride.

The Rams will play host to West Grand at 1 p.m. Saturday at home in Oak Creek in the Colorado 8-man football semifinals, and Soroco very much hopes this time is different than the last.

"Revenge," Soroco senior Kendall Hood said, "would be awesome. We have a really good shot at them, and we're ready for them."

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Soroco's hope lies in the three games its played since that brutal loss to West Grand.

The Rams beat a solid Hayden team 56-34 to finish off the regular season, then thumped the No. 3 team in the state, Merino, 42-32, in the first round of the state tournament. Finally, Soroco blasted No. 11 Mancos, 40-0, last weekend in the state quarterfinals.

All three games had several things in common.

They were all on the road, a coincidence that hasn't escaped Soroco coach Dick Dudas, who jokes he may load the bus and drive the team out to Craig and back just to keep the same mojo going.

More seriously, the team has sharpened up across the board. A few personnel moves have helped. Dudas has pointed repeatedly to moving senior Jesse Amrein off the offensive line and into the backfield where he’s an occasional ball carrier and more frequently a strong lead blocker for running back Jace Logan.

Soroco's defense, too, has improved and was as tight Saturday against Mancos as it's been all season. The Rams held a team averaging 33 points per game scoreless, earning Soroco’s first shutout of the season.

"It's not just Jace. He gets all the attention. He should, but the supporting cast is getting better and better," Dudas said. "We've worked hard on our defense, and we've changed some stuff. We maneuver around a lot more, and we really got to believing in, 'This is your assignment.' If everyone does their assignment and doesn't chase the ball, we'll do just fine."

And — no excuses, they say — but the team, at least at the top of the stat sheet, is as healthy as it’s been since early in the season and in much better shape than it was Oct. 19.

Soroco's superstar tailback Jace Logan twisted an ankle early in the week before that first game against West Grand. He played, running at about 60 percent in Dudas's estimation, but wasn't effective, gaining 35 yards on eight carries.

Logan played a diminished role the next weekend against Hayden, when he aggravated the injury, but has been back at full power in the playoffs, gaining 728 yards on 65 carries, — 11.2 yards per touch — in Soroco's two playoff wins.

The Rams were also playing against West Grand with senior offensive and defensive lineman Schuyler Carlson for the first time after an extended absence with a knee injury.

"That was just a bad day. I was injured, and it just wasn't our game," Logan said.

So, the list is: two healthier key players, a defense with momentum and an offensive lineman playing in the backfield. Is that really enough to stand up to the hurricane that slammed Soroco a month ago?

The Rams are hoping.

"We didn't show up that day, but now, we're coming back focused,” Logan said. “We're having more fun than ever, and we'll see what we can do.”

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9.

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