Thursday, September 19, 2002
Steamboat Springs Soroco and Meeker have identical league records 0-1.
That, however, might be all the two newcomers to the Class 1A Western Slope League have in common as they prepare to meet at 7:30 p.m. today in South Routt Stadium.
The Cowboys are pursuing a league title. The Rams are back competing at the varsity level and will try to prevent the game from turning into a rout.
"They are a very good team," Soroco coach Gary Heide said. "They are very well-disciplined on offense with overall good team speed."
Dropping enrollment brought Meeker down from 2A to 1A this season and the next for certain, and it wasn't as if the Cowboys were struggling in 2A after finishing 6-3 last fall.
West Grand, largely regarded as a small-school football power and the team to beat in the league, defeated Meeker by three measly points on Oct. 13.
Soroco fell to Grand Valley, 19-0.
Heide admits his players are in for a challenge, but he believes facing an opponent like Meeker is part of the growing process for a team.
"I'm always excited to play good competition," Heide said. "I want my athletes to be excited because if you can rise up and play with them, you've accomplished something."
West Grand's 24 points was the most allowed by the Cowboys all season. In their first two games, they gave up a combined six points.
Soroco has added some new looks to its offense, which Heide said looked a little rusty against Grand Valley. He hoped to polish it off this week, particularly in the passing game.
"I would expect to be a little sharper," Heide said.
Defensively, Heide is pleased with how the unit has rallied around each other and assistant coach Chad Holloway. Heide said the team pursuit and effort for the past several weeks has been exceptional.
"Coach Holloway really has them playing with confidence," Heide said.
Last week, Soroco had a hard time stopping the run, and Meeker, like most programs, thrives on keeping the ball on the ground to wear down opponents.
Attempts to reach Cowboys coach Craig Paschal were unsuccessful.
Effort, though, has been one thing Soroco has consistently played with all season, and Heide doesn't expect that to change tonight. He said he challenged his players, coaching staff and himself to be at their best, despite having to play without senior Trevor Ellis, who will sit out with an injury.
"This is an opportunity for us to say, 'OK, Soroco is playing varsity football against a good football team,'" Heide said. "We will be a better football team for playing teams like this. It's fun to play against a top-notch football team and have success. I mean success in many ways. I'm looking for us to take a step forward."
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