Fireworks likely in match-up of Soroco, Nucla | SteamboatToday.com

Fireworks likely in match-up of Soroco, Nucla

Fireworks likely in match-up of undefeateds

If you go

What: Soroco football (3-0)
at Nucla (3-0)

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Nucla

— It might seem logical to go ahead and pencil in a 4-0 record next to the Soroco football team.

Yes, the Rams haven’t even made the six-hour trek to the small southwest Colorado town for tonight’s game. But Soroco’s win last season was so decisive – 57-20 in Oak Creek – that it seems like a few points might even carry over.

Not so fast, Rams coach David Bruner said Thursday. He said Soroco has improved a great deal in the past 12 months, but the team it will take on tonight has nothing but the color of the uniforms in common with the squad that limped away from Oak Creek in 2008.

“They’re a totally different team,” Bruner said. “Coaches I’ve talked to say they don’t even look like the same program. They’re about 100 times better.”

The numbers bear it out. Winners of one game all of last season, Nucla is already 3-0.

The drastic change in competitiveness came about because of a drastic change in coaches.

Jeff Palmer took over the program and changed everything from the team’s practice routine to the positions played by long-established starters.

The most troubling shift for the Rams will be Nucla’s transition of Eric Galarza to quarterback. A 220-pound junior, Galarza proved a capable tight end in 2008 who also occasionally got his hands on the ball as running back. Now that he’s a senior who touches the ball on every offensive down, he’s morphed into a sleep-depriving, yard-gaining monster.

“It’s natural for him,” Palmer said. “We gave him a little coaching and it was a natural fit.”

He has averaged nearly 300 yards a game passing and running, and his presence behind center forced the Rams into a week of focus on their defense.

Run defense has proven one of the team’s Achilles heels – Nucla has given up more than 550 yards rushing the past two weeks.

“It will be key that we stop the running game this week,” Bruner said. “We have been working on our defensive alignment. Hopefully they can’t get out of the gates and get running and we can shut them down.”

Nucla, meanwhile, has quarterback worries of its own.

Palmer said he hasn’t seen Soroco’s senior signal caller Cody Miles play – the team’s didn’t exchange tapes prior to the game – but he was in awe as he checked out his statistics.

Miles accounted for 461 yards of offense last week alone and, for the second time this season, racked up seven touchdowns.

“Instead of just having a safety spy him, we’re going to have our fastest kid spy,” Palmer said. “Hopefully he can catch him because if not, there is going to be a lot of running room out there.”

It all has the makings of an offensive slugfest. Soroco has averaged 44 points a game through its first three contests. Nucla has scored 41.3.

“I don’t know if there’s going to be a whole lot of defense played, but sometimes those are the real fun games,” Palmer said.