With an upset in 8-man, Soroco football rolls on to 2nd round | SteamboatToday.com

With an upset in 8-man, Soroco football rolls on to 2nd round

MERINO — Few things in sports seem as reliable as the small-class football playoffs and the fate of Colorado high school northern mountain teams therein.

Year in and year out, fine teams filled with nice kids come out of the mountains in late October and November to play on Colorado's eastern plains and year in and year out, they're overpowered by the farm-honed muscle of the prairie, big teams from small towns grinding their opponents like a mill grinding grain.

Saturday, the Soroco High School football team didn't get ground.

It did the grinding.

The Rams, the No. 14 team in the 16-team Colorado 8-man football playoffs, came so far onto the plains the Rocky Mountains couldn't be seen, and they came away winners, knocking out the state's No. 3 seed, Merino, 42-32.

It was the first win in the playoffs for Soroco in more than two decades.

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"That feels pretty good, knowing not a lot of people have made it this far, especially from our school," senior Bosch Erickson said.

The win sends Soroco on to the second round where it will face No. 11 Mancos, which upset No. 6 Rocky Mountain Lutheran, 64-28. The location of that game will be decided by a coin flip, and the time and date have not yet been announced.

Soroco was able to twist that plains-muscle stereotype Saturday by coming in bigger and stronger than the team from the plains, Merino, and Soroco turned to a true blue rodeo cowboy to lead the way.

Jace Logan, the Rams' 5-foot-10, 170-pound running back, rode Merino to the tune of 298 yards on 36 carries and five touchdowns.

Soroco got big performances up and down its roster.

Merino turned to the pass early hoping to expose what's proven to a be a Soroco weakness, and quarterback Cade Conger had a good day, completing 14 for 28 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns. Soroco never let him get comfortable, however. Bosch Erickson had one big sack from the defensive end position. Schuyler Carlson was applying pressure on all day from the defensive line and Nick Estes and Kendall Hood each pulled down interceptions.

Junior Soroco quarterback Truman Anarella ran for 52 yards on seven carries and notched one touchdown while Jesse Amrein ran 39 yards on eight carries.

Soroco's offensive and defensive lines helped control the game both ways, driving the action with more authority than they did against any good team this season.

"A lot of it was in the line, just showing up and playing hard," Erickson said.

It began and ended with Logan, however. He went 46 yards right up the middle for a touchdown on the game's third offensive play, then went 35 yards for another score on Soroco's second possession. He scored from 11 yards out later in the first quarter to put his team up, 20-0.

One series in the game's waning moments summed it up as well as anything. Comfortably in the lead but wanting to burn clock, Soroco leaned solely on Logan. He ran the ball on seven consecutive plays.

He had gains of five yards, then seven, six, five, two and two, picking up two first downs along the way. Finally, he broke one open, bashing his way up the middle for 23 yards and the touchdown that all-but ended the game.

"He's a tremendous back. We knew he was going to be a handful," Merino coach Rocky DeSanti said. "We hadn't faced anyone quite like him this year. We've run into some really good backs, big strong backs, but no one with his kind of speed, and he's got great feet and hips."

Merino didn't fit that plains-team stereotype or really any 8-man stereotype at all. In a format where blowouts are common, it played almost exclusively tight games and had so much experience trailing its players didn't panic when Soroco went up by 20 points early.

"They're a scrappy bunch," Desanti said. "That's the way they've been all year."

Merino couldn't climb out of this hole, however. Soroco was strong against the run, limiting the team's bread-and-butter option attack, then good enough against the pass, especially once it had that 20-0 lead.

"I knew coming in Soroco wasn't a 14 seed," Desanti said.

The Rams have only made the playoffs once since joining 8-man football in 2008, and that was last season when they did what mountains teams usually do when they trip to the plains for a playoff game, losing 60-20 as the No. 15 seed playing No. 2 Sargent.

Soroco's win Saturday was the biggest upset in the 8-man tournament.

"No. 14 going against 3 is not good odds to bet on, but we matched pretty well with these guys," Soroco coach Dick Dudas said. "Normally these guys are a lot stronger than we are. They’re all corn-fed guys it seems like, and they’re bigger and stronger. But we're not chopped liver in that department this year. We have strength."

Saturday, Soroco muscled its way into the second round for the first time in more than two decades.  

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

Box score

Soroco 42, Merino 32

Soroco Merino    

18 First Downs 16

54-379 Rushes-Yards 31-123

1-2-0 Comp-Att-Int 14-28-2

5 Yards Passing 248

384 Total Yards 371

2-1 Fumbles-lost 0-0

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Soroco 20-00-06-14—42

Merino 06-08-06-12—32

SCORING SUMMARY

First Quarter

S — 10:24, Jace Logan 46-yard run. (Logan run).

S — 6:59, Logan 35 run. (Run failed).

S — 2:56, Logan 11 run. (Run failed).
M — 1:07, Matthew Frank 68 pass from Cade Conger. (Pass failed).

Second Quarter

M — 1:04, Remington Canfield 4 run. (Canfield run).

Third Quarter

S — 8:29, Logan 7 run. (Run failed).

M — 6:13, Trent Elliott 41 pass from Conger. (Run failed).

Fourth Quarter

S — 9:45, Truman Anarella 3 run. (Logan run).

M — 5:55, Frank 2 run. (Run failed).

S — 2:43, Logan 23 run. (Run failed).

M — 1:36, Tye Barton 11 pass from Conger. (Pass failed).

INDIVIDUAL STATS

Rushing:

S: Jace Logan 36-298, 5 TD; Truman Anarella 7-52, 1 TD; Jesse Amrein 8-39; Jesse Koler 3-(-6).

M: Matthew Frank 10-25, 1 TD; Cade Conger 9-27; Remington Canfield 12-71, 1 TD.

Passing

S: Anarella 1-of-2, 0 INT, 5 yards.

M: Conger 13-of-28, 2 INT, 248 yards, 3 TD.

Receiving

S: Amrein 1-5.

M: Frank 3-92, 1 TD; Barton 3-60, 1 TD; Elliott 3-67, 1 TD; Canfield 4-31; Dylan Holman 1-10.

_____________________________________

Colorado 8-man football playoffs

1st round

No. 1 Sedgwick County 49, No. 16 McClave 0

No. 9 Fowler 36, No. 8 Springfield 14

No. 13 Caliche 20, No. 4 Hoehne 16

No. 5 Holly 32, No. 12 Haxtun 16

No. 14 Soroco 42, No. 3 Merino 32

No. 11 Mancos 64, No. 6 Rocky Mountain Lutheran 28

No. 7 Sargent 56, No. 10 Gilpin County 26

No. 2 West Grand 24, No. 15 Norwood 14

2nd round

No. 1 Sedgwick County vs. No. 9 Fowler

No. 5 Holly vs. No. 13 Caliche

No. 11 Mancos vs. No. 14 Soroco

No. 2 West Grand vs. No. 7 Sargent

 

_____________________________________

 

Upsets abound

Soroco’s upset wasn’t the only one of the weekend. Elsewhere in the 8-man playoffs, No. 9 Fowler took down No. 8 Springfield, 36-14. No. 13 Caliche — which Soroco beat 48-36 to open the season — won 20-16 against No. 4 Hoene.

West Grand, the No. 2 seed, also won, defeating Norwood, 24-14, to advance to play No. 7 Sargent.


Soroco’s got a new fan

Merino coach Rocky Desanti had high praise for Soroco in general and a few players in particular, including senior lineman Schuyler Carlson.

“He was really impressive. He didn’t always make the play, make the tackle, but you’re having to devote so much to stop him, and he’s causing so much disruption and slowing plays down,” Desanti said.

He also said he really liked Soroco’s chances moving forward.

“Soroco’s going to beat Mancos,” he said. “I’ve seen some tape on Mancos and they’re not going to be able to handle Soroco.”

Logan piles up stats

Soroco’s Jace Logan was already 8-man football’s leading running back in terms of yards and touchdowns. He padded those stats in a big way Saturday, gaining 298 yards and scoring five touchdowns. 

On the season, that puts him at 2,593 yards rushing and 35 rushing touchdowns.

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