Johnny DeCosta takes over for Dick Dudas as Soroco Rams Football head coach |

DeCosta takes over for Dudas as Soroco football head coach

Johnny DeCosta overlooks the Soroco football team during practice on Thursday, Aug. 15, at Soroco High School.
Shelby Reardon

OAK CREEK — At an early-season Soroco football practice, Dick Dudas was on the field, but he wasn’t the one running the show. After nine years on the staff, four as head coach, Dudas retired in November.

The responsibility as head coach of the Rams now falls to Johnny DeCosta.

“I’ve always loved that it’s like a chess match,” DeCosta said. “It’s a live-action chess match against the other team. That’s really the biggest thing for me.

“I love the camaraderie and everybody coming together as a team. When I played, that was a huge thing; some of those guys are still some of my best friends.”

At practice on Thursday, Aug. 15, DeCosta ran the team through plays, perfected handoffs and encouraged players for executing plays well. Even just weeks into the new coach’s tenure, the players seemed to be in the right place: comfortable enough with DeCosta to joke around, but respecting him enough to do more than he asked.

Helping his cause, DeCosta isn’t a stranger to the Soroco players. This is actually his second stint with the Rams. He assisted for two years before returning to college. This will be his third straight season since returning home.

Oak Creek is home for DeCosta, who graduated from Soroco High School in 2007. He said it’s his home that first got him into coaching.

“It’s primarily this town: Soroco,” DeCosta said. “I was a farmer in Fruita, there for five years and I never really was able to get into coaching as much. I really have a passion for Soroco and this school. I went to school here. We all have a little chip on our shoulder. … It’s really the school that gets me wanting to coach.”

When DeCosta wore the maroon and white, the Rams struggled. His senior season, the squad went 1-7. He also participated in basketball and track, helping the 4×400-meter relay finish sixth as a last-second addition his sophomore year.

Johnny DeCosta reacts to his players running a drill at practice on Thursday, Aug. 15, at Soroco High School.
Shelby Reardon

Away from the field, DeCosta works for Spartan Construction, a small group out of South Routt. Joining DeCosta is a handful of assistant coaches, most of which played football in the past. He said he acknowledges the seniors as major leaders on the field though. At the conclusion of practice, the team huddled together, yelling “hard work” before dispersing.

“We give it to the seniors to call it,” DeCosta said of the huddle. “They’re usually pretty good about keeping it to hard work or intensity or something positive to keep everybody going. I try to let the seniors be leaders on the team.”

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.

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