Rams ready to end drought

Should the Soroco football team pick up a league win this season, it will be the first in four years, so excuse the Rams if they are a little excited about ending the drought.

Soroco (2-0) hosts Grand Valley (1-1) at 7:30 p.m. today in Oak Creek and has a legitimate shot at picking up its first league win since rejoining the Western Slope last season.

During the 2000 and 2001 seasons, the Rams played an independent schedule with no league affiliation -- and, consequently, zero hope of postseason play -- as they continued to rebuild the football program.

Last year, Soroco went winless in the Western Slope but competed hard. Staying in games was the first step. Winning those games is the second.

"We want to feel like we belong in the league," Rams coach Gary Heide said. "I know the first league game we win will be the first league win in four years. We don't want to wait. We want to get that feeling."

In last season's 19-0 loss to Grand Valley, Soroco's defense played relatively well but the offense struggled, which was a reoccurring theme for the Rams in 2002. Through two games this year, however, the Rams have proven to be a more balanced and dangerous offensive team, outscoring opposition 65-21 in the first two games -- both victories.

Increased physical play up front and from the offensive backfield, coupled with the emergence of a vertical passing game, make the Rams a more difficult team to prepare for defensively, Heide said.

In Soroco's first two games, the football team was able to pull out convincing wins. Starting tonight, the competition gets stiffer.

Four teams in the league will earn postseason berths this year, compared with just three last season. While Heide lists Meeker, Paonia and Rangely as the teams to beat in the Class 1A Western Slope league, the fourth spot is open to the team that wants it the most. While it would be an impressive feat to go from no league wins to the postseason, it is possible given the talent on this year's Rams team.

"I definitely think the confidence is there," Heide said. "We have developed that because of the fine athletes we have. We've been practicing hard and it's been validated on the field, but we have to step it up a notch because the competition gets better."

Heide hopes the veteran leadership on his team will make the difference this year when the Rams face adversity. To expect every bounce, call and play to go Soroco's way is foolish, and Heide wants his team to be mentally prepared for something going wrong.

"We're still working on the whole total concept," Heide said. "I'm just telling them to be ready for it and be proud. They are a hard-hitting and quick team. That's our trademark. We may make mistakes, but now we have the ability to come back. It does make a difference when you have juniors and seniors out there, and I know that's going to help us. If we go play our game, we'll be right in it."

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