Rams shut out Hayden in regular-season finale
Hayden — There has never been any doubt about the Soroco High School football team’s ability to score on offense. However, for most of the season, the defense had been something of an Achilles heel for the Rams.
So, Friday’s 42-0 win at Hayden High School in the regular-season finale was something special.
“We were just pursuing, going to where the ball was, and that’s what we needed to do,” Soroco senior Storm Veilleux said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever been on a team and shut the other team out in the four years I’ve been here. We’ve had some big blowouts against lower competition, but I think this is the first shut-out, and that’s awesome.”
The Soroco defense didn’t have it easy, however. Hayden’s offense found the red zone three times — once after a long kickoff return and again after a fumble recovery — but was turned away on downs each time.
“I kind of feel like we might be the best team in the league between the 20s, but we didn’t get anything done in the red zone,” Hayden coach Ryan Wilkie said. “All year long, that was the nemesis for us. That was a killer.”
Soroco’s usual nemesis had been slow starts, which wasn’t the case against Hayden. The Rams opened the game with a nine-play, 65-yard drive that ended with a 38-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Issac Jonas to freshman Jace Logan.
Then, the first play of Hayden’s next possession, Jonas intercepted a Tiger pass and took it to the house to give Soroco a quick 14-0 lead.
“It was great. It brought energy to our team that we needed,” Veilleux said. “We’ve always had slow starts, and we were finally able to not have a slow start tonight. We were able to get out on top and not have to dig ourselves out of a hole.”
Both teams were a little sloppy with the ball over the next quarter, but with halftime approaching, Jonas hit Logan in stride for an 84-yard score and a 22-0 Soroco lead. Jonas got another interception right after, and a series of big plays led to a 5-yard touchdown run by senior Eric Logan.
Soroco led 28-0 at the break.
“I’ll give Hayden credit. They fought hard, especially in the first half,” Soroco coach Dick Dudas said. “We had some poor tackling and allowed them to drive.”
Soroco pushed its lead to 34-0 on a 9-yard run by Jace Logan midway through the third quarter and got the running clock going with a final touchdown late in the same quarter, this time, a 36-yard run by Eric Logan.
Hayden finishes the season 1-7, the first with Wilkie as head coach. He is optimistic about the future, however, with only three seniors on the roster.
“The one thing you have to credit our kids for is they fought, and years like this, where you don’t have a lot of success, it would be easy to pack it in and be done,” Wilkie said. “We were young all year, and next year, we are going to come back with some experience. So we are excited about that, and we are ready to get into our offseason and work on getting better.”
Dudas — also in his first year as head coach — is equally excited for the Rams, which finished the year 4-4, including three straight wins. Soroco could still make the 8-man playoffs, but considering their second-place finish in the league, behind Norwood, and a 1-3 non-league record, Dudas said their playoff chances are around “1 in a 100.”
“The problem is, our schedule is eight games. We just couldn’t fill a ninth,” Dudas said. “Now, with the new realignment coming next year, if what I hear is true, we will have seven league games, and we’ll just have to fill two to be at nine. We are going to be strong next year.”
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