Most Routt County prep sports seasons about to start |

Most Routt County prep sports seasons about to start

— Two weeks of practice and a scrimmage Saturday helped, Soroco High School football coach David Bruner explained.

Still, as Bruner and the Rams begin working toward the season's first game, plenty of questions remain.

How will the squad cope with a new-look league that now includes cross-county rival Hayden? Will an inexperienced offensive line gel in time? Can underclassman skill-position players like Ryan Jeep, Ian Palyo and Matthew Regan take the next step after being pushed into the varsity pool last year? And how about at defense?

"We're going to work on tackling, wrapping up a lot this week," Bruner said.

The clock is ticking, not just for the Rams but all three local high school football teams, each of which is set to kick off its season Friday night. A weekend that included a couple of Steamboat Springs High School tennis matches and several Saturday afternoon football scrimmages served as a prelude, but high school sports begins to kick into high gear this week.

The Soroco football team opens at 7 p.m. Friday at home against Gilpin County. Hayden will start its first 8-man football season at 7 p.m. Friday at home against Belleview Christian, and Steamboat will start at 7 p.m. Friday at Eagle Valley.

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Add in the Soroco volleyball team's 6 p.m. Friday night opener at home against Beth Eden, the Steamboat volleyball team's first match Friday on the road at Glenwood Springs, the Steamboat cross-country team's first meet Friday at Cheyenne Mountain and the Sailors boys soccer team's 10 a.m. season opener Saturday in Steamboat, and there's a tremendously busy week of local high school sports towering on the week's horizon.

The dry run for Soroco football, Saturday's scrimmage against Wyoming's Little Snake River High School, came with ups and downs. That offensive line played well in spots and whiffed in others. Several young players played well enough to fight their way onto Bruner's radar, and he said Nic Paxton looked as consistent and strong as he ever has.

"Execution-wise, the guys played well," Bruner said. "We're more complex defensively than we have been since I've been here, in the last six years. The kids are understanding the system, and these seniors have been playing in it now since seventh grade. That's big."

Hayden didn't have a scrimmage against another team, but it did run through an intrasquad scrimmage Friday. Coach Shawn Baumgartner said afterward that the problems were predictable: occasionally poor timing, forgotten plays and missed assignments.

"It was just a lot of preseason stuff we've always struggled with early," he said.

It's noteworthy, he said, that the problems were football problems, not 8-man problems.

"It's football," he said. "Whether it's 8-man or 11-man, it doesn't really matter. We need to block and tackle and run, to throw and catch the ball. We need to execute football-wise, and we'll be OK."

Just what it will mean in Friday night's bright lights remains to be seen. One thing is clear: This coming week will provide no shortage of answers for all the local teams.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email

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