Rams look to open up attack in big games | SteamboatToday.com

Rams look to open up attack in big games

Soroco's Jesse Koler cuts up the field Saturday against Caliche. Koler isn't the program's top running back, but he could be nearly as essential Friday if opponents double team Rams tailback Jace Logan.
Joel Reichenberger
Elsewhere in local high school action this weekend: Steamboat Springs football (0-1) at Summit (0-1), 7 p.m. Friday If Steamboat's to win some games early this season, it needs to win battles at the line of scrimmage. That was the biggest problem for the team in its 34-9 opening loss against Battle Mountain. The Huskies were able to consistently open holes for their running backs, then prevent Steamboat from doing the same. The Sailors scored late on a beautiful 75-yard touchdown pass, so perhaps that can spark some momentum heading into Week 2. Steamboat Springs volleyball (1-0) at Glenwood Springs Demon Invitational, Friday and Saturday The Sailors had little trouble with Moffat County last week to open their season, but face a more difficult task this weekend with a tournament in Glenwood. The Sailors will start the tournament by facing Pagosa Springs, Grand Valley and Denver Christian. Steamboat a year ago was breaking in an almost entirely new set of varsity players. The vast majority of that group is back, so expectations are different and this early tournament will be a tremendous opportunity for the squad to figure out where it may stand when league play starts. Steamboat cross country at Arapahoe The Sailors didn't run last week when they had the chance, but will get into action for the season Friday. It's hard to know what early meets mean because so many athletes and teams have just begun the process of getting into the shape they'll want to be in later in the season. That said, Steamboat has some special runners and could well show that, even this early. Steamboat tennis at Loveland, Silver Creek A Front Range road trip awaits the Sailors after visiting Grand Junction last weekend. Coach JoJo O'Dell has a decidedly young squad this season, so early results may not be indicative of what damage the team could do late in the season. Soroco, Hayden volleyball at Rangely tournament The Rams and Tigers will both play Friday and Saturday in a tournament at Rangely. Soroco opened its season last weekend with losses against Caprock Academy (3-1) and Vail Mountain (3-0). Hayden will open its season this weekend. Soroco cross country at Battle Mountain The Soroco cross country team won't drift too far from home Saturday, competing in a race at Battle Mountain High School. The Rams pack some of the top athletes in the region regardless of class. Chloe Veilleux was second last week in the season opening race at Basalt, for instance.  The team is also working this season to develop a deeper roster and showed signs of doing that as Kourtney Bruner was 22nd, Charlee Veilleux 23rd and Mattie Rossi 28th.

As it turns out, there’s a formula for stopping the Soroco High School football team’s yard-devouring running back, Jace Logan.

Logan’s coming off an absurd statistical year of rushing the football, one in which he gained 1,858 yards and scored 21 touchdowns, one of the best 8-man stat lines not in the league or the state, but the nation.

He started off this season as strong as he could, too, piling up 337 yards and scoring seven touchdowns Saturday in the Rams’ season opening win against Caliche.

The problem has never been gaining yards on team’s like Caliche, however, a program that didn’t win a game last year.

Against elite competition, Logan’s been much less effective, and Friday, the Rams will face one of the best teams in the state, traveling to play at 7 p.m. at Norwood.

The Mavericks held Logan to only 24 yards on six carries in a matchup last season.

Ranked No. 8 in the chsaanow.com preseason poll, they’re set for another big season, and if Soroco’s to throw a wrench in their plans, it will need to either find a way to free up Logan or find similar production elsewhere.

The Rams are hoping to do a little of both.

“We look at how to free him up, but also how to use him as a decoy,” Soroco coach Dick Dudas said.

The formula for that success against Logan last year proved to be intense focus from very good defenders.

He often found himself shadowed everywhere he went and doubled most of that time.

“They watch a lot of film, and they really key on me,” Logan said. “They have a couple guys on me at all times.”

Soroco has at least three ways it hopes to answer that focus.

First, it’s hoping to take advantage of that intense focus with misdirection-style plays.

That was on display Saturday, when Logan took a reverse handoff deep in Soroco territory, then cut it up field and went 97 yards for a touchdown.

“We’re putting in a lot of counter plays, misdirection plays, where Jace is going one way, and we come back the other,” Dudas said.

The Rams are also looking for others to step up.

Logan was part of a one-two punch last year with then-senior quarterback Isaac Jonas, who racked up nearly 1,600 yards offense running and passing, while accounting for 19 touchdowns.

They started the process of developing new threats Saturday.

Jesse Koler, a 140-pound sophomore running back, gained 77 yards on 7 carries. Soroco also got 60 yards rushing on eight carries from junior quarterback Truman Anarella, who also completed two passes for 35 yards.

The task for Anarella, for instance, isn’t to win the game with his arm or his feet, but rather to be effective enough to take some heat off Logan.

“A short passing game will make the linebackers back off the line of scrimmage,” Dudas said.

The last piece of the puzzle comes down to Dudas and Logan, themselves. One thing that stuck out about those games last year, when Logan was stymied, was how few touches he got. Six carries against Norwood was his low for the season.

He only had seven in a lopsided playoff loss to Sargent, when he was limited to 20 yards.

Against those elite teams, there are few first downs for a team like Soroco and few offensive plays and opportunities for Logan, or anyone else, to rack up yards. Still, Dudas said it’s important not to lose faith in his dynamic running back.

“If Jace gets 20 or 25 carries, he’ll break a few of them,” Dudas said. “We just have to have patience. If we give it to him three or four or five times and it doesn’t work, we need to keep at it.”

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

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