Soroco football aims for playoff upset
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Upsets as big as the one the Soroco High School football team is envisioning are rare in Colorado 8-man football, but as healthy as they’ve been in more than a month and going against a highly seeded, but offensively unspectacular opponent, the Rams have big ideas.
Soroco, the No. 14 seed in the 16-team, 8-man tournament, will travel to play at 1 p.m. Saturday at No. 3 Merino.
“If we play some defense it could be a heck of a ballgame,” Soroco coach Dick Dudas said.
On paper, Merino offers more opportunity for upset than most 3-14 matchups might.
The Rams of Merino — it’s worth noting at this point that Merino and Soroco share much in common, including the ram as a mascot and maroon as a primary color — have played close games throughout the season. Six of their eight wins have been by two possessions or less, and on the season, they’ve outscored their opponents by just 22 points, 210-188. That’s the second-lowest point differential among the 16 playoff teams.
Merino’s 210 points this season, is the lowest offensive output of any playoff team by seven touchdowns, and its 188 points allowed is worse than 10 other teams.
That’s on paper, however. On film, Dudas said he sees a physically strong opponent capable of manhandling plenty of teams, a team capable of making that low point differential work to the tune of an 8-1 record.
“They’ve got a good defense that can keep them in the game until they figure out what they want to do on offense, and once they do get ahead, they’re strong enough to control the ball,” Dudas said. “That strength lets them eat up the clock.”
Think of it like a boa constrictor, squeezing its opponents to death rather than a viper, stabbing out at them.
“They’re strong and if you stand up against them, they’ll blow you back eight or 10 yards,” Dudas said.
Soroco’s hoping its offense, fifth this season in 8-man in scoring, can be explosive enough to counteract Merino’s slowing effects.
Soroco will head into the game with the healthiest stable of players its had since early in the season. Senior Schuyler Carlson is back working on the offensive and defensive lines after missing time with a bum knee. Sophomore tailback Jesse Koler is back in the lineup after missing time with a concussion and senior Jesse Amrein, who moved to tailback from the offensive line, is healthy and ready after a breakout 200-yard, two-touchdown performance against Hayden in the regular season finale.
Jace Logan, a junior tailback leading the state with 2,295 yards rushing and 30 touchdowns, is also expected to be back to full strength after missing time against Hayden with a twisted ankle.
Dudas said the plan, as usual, will be to ride Logan hard but to use those other healthy and proven options, like Koler and Amrein, to keep Merino off balance.
“We know in Colorado when Jace Logan moves, the state tilts,” Dudas said. “We want to take advantage of that.”
If it all goes right, Dudas said, Soroco could have a rare opportunity. All will have to go right, however.
“They don’t score a lot of points, but it’s all about whether or not you can muscle up with them to some degree,” Dudas said. “If you can’t, it’ll be a long afternoon.”
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