Rams can’t corral Mustangs’ rally, fall 38-28 in state semifinal game
OAK CREEK — The Soroco Rams scored 28 points in Saturday’s state semifinal playoff game in Oak Creek. It was more than any other team in the state has scored against West Grand — a team that recorded seven shutouts and only gave up 52 points all season — this season.
But as the game clock expired in Saturday’s 8-man state semifinal game, it wasn’t enough for the Rams. The Mustangs simply had too many horses to corral, and Soroco’s historic state playoff run came to an end, one game short of the ultimate goal — playing for a state championship.
“We have something we should be very proud of in Oak Creek, we have something that we are very proud of,” head coach Dick Dudas said after his team fell to the West Grand Mustangs, the No. 2-ranked team in the state, 38-28.
No. 14 Soroco was the lowest-seeded team remaining in this year’s 8-man state football bracket. No. 1 Sedgwick County defeated No. 5 Holly, 41-8, in the other game played Saturday, setting up a showdown for the state title between No. 1 and No. 2 next weekend.
The Rams had hoped to play in that game, but despite Saturday’s loss, the team can’t help but be happy with how far its’s come this season.
“We are a much different team than we were a month or so ago,” Dudas said. “(West Grand is) a good team, and they are the No. 2 team in the state for a reason. Except for a couple of onside kicks that they recovered, we were neck and neck.”
That can’t be said about the last time the Rams faced West Grand on Oct. 19. On that day, the Mustangs rode away with a 54-0 victory. But this time around, the Rams were out to prove they belonged.
“We came in with better attitude this time,” senior Sky Carlson said after the game. “We were the underdogs so we had nothing left to lose.”
In fact, Soroco jumped out to an early 8-0 lead after the team’s leading rusher Jace Logan rambled into the end zone on a 60-plus yard rush. Jesse Amrein bulled in for the two-point conversion and the Rams were up early.
West Grand would answer on the Mustangs next possession. Quarterback Brady Gore hit senior receiver Jake Bentler on a 72-yard pass play. Junior Fleets capped off the touchdown with a two-point conversion and the game was tied at 8.
The Rams did their best to put the game away at the end of the first half, however. Logan carried the ball eight yards for his second touchdown of the game. The conversion failed, but the Rams took a 14-8 lead.
Then with a little more than a minute remaining in the half, the Rams stretched the lead to 22-8 when Truman Anarella hit Kendall Hood with a long pass play for the touchdown.
“We definitely wanted to win, we knew that we had a chance. We came out after halftime and kind of lost the team continuity,” Carlson said. “It was still a heck of an effort, and we are proud of where we came from.”
Logan finished the game with 207 yards on 14 carries. He rushed for two touchdowns and caught another. Amrein carried the ball seven times for 37 yards, and Anarella carried the ball three times for 12 yards and threw two touchdown passes. Jesse Koler had 24 yards on four carries.
On the other side of the field, the Mustangs were led by Luis Dominguiz, who rushed for 143 yards and scored three touchdowns helping fuel the Mustangs’ rally.
“We have never been behind all year,” West Grand coach Chris Brown said after the game. “You never know how you will handle those kind of things, but our kids did a really good job.”
The West Grand coach said he was impressed by the Rams’ performance Saturday, but he wasn’t surprised.
“Soroco played really well,” Brown said. “I expected that — the semifinals are always tough.”
Following the game, the disappointment could be seen as the Ram players walked off the field including on the face of Carlson, who had just finished his final high school contest along with seniors Colton Stroup, Hood, Jonah Jonas, Erik Shafer, Joseph Johnson and Bosch Erickson.
“We just never gave up,” he said. “There were a lot of times that we were getting beating by a lot, and we just never gave up. That is what I love about this team.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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