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Soroco football left out of 8-man playoffs

Soroco High School football coach Josef Keller and the Rams found out they didn't make the 8-man state playoffs Sunday. Soroco ended its season with a 37-point win against rival Hayden on Friday, and it will be Keller's last game as Rams coach, he announced afterward.
Ben Ingersoll

— It may have been a bit of a long shot after all resumes were compiled, but on Sunday, the Soroco High School football team finally found out its playoff fate, and the Rams weren’t selected for the 16-team, 8-man postseason.

Are the Rams surprised? Maybe a litte, coach Josef Keller said. Will the players be disappointed? He thinks so, but based on their body of work in 2014, the Rams have nothing to hang their heads about.

Soroco built a 5-3 record and was second place in conference play, but an unfavorable schedule featuring state powerhouses and just seven varsity contests — two against the same team — did the Rams few favors when it came time for the Colorado High School Activities Association to decide the 16 squads that advanced.



“We knew we had a 50-50 chance at best on getting in,” Keller said. “Having conversations with people in that room, it really came down to us and (No. 16) Elbert in that last spot. We knew there were probably five teams for three spots there at the end, so we knew this could happen.”

Elbert took the No. 16 seed, but the extremely top-heavy 8-man rankings mean almost certain defeat for the Bulldogs — or any team up for that spot — because waiting in Round 1 is two-time defending state champion Dayspring Christian Academy.



The Rams were routed by Dayspring Christian, 62-0, on Sept. 13. That doesn’t matter much to Keller, though. He wanted his kids to get a taste of the playoffs, but they were treating the end of the regular season as such, anyway.

“I think the kids will be disappointed,” said Keller, who under CHSAA rules can’t contact Rams players about team-related matters Sundays. “With our schedule, we’ve played every game for the last three games like it’s our last.”

Soroco sat at 2-3 after a Sept. 27 loss to No. 2-seed Norwood, 53-0, and postseason hopes for the Rams seemed improbable at best.

But things took a big change a week later at Rangely. Soroco stole an 18-10 win, and reeled off two more victories to close out the regular season and give the CHSAA voting committee something to consider.

Nevertheless, even with league representative Keith Williams, of Norwood, in Denver on Sunday lobbying for the Rams, Soroco was passed over for Elbert and No. 15 seed Fowler.

Neither Elbert nor Fowler ran through quite the gauntlet that Soroco did, though, further bothering Keller that his squad was brushed aside.

Soroco’s three losses came against the top two seeds in Dayspring Christian and Norwood as well as another against Sanford, which advanced to the 8-man quarterfinals a year ago.

“There were two reps from leagues who didn’t have any out-of-league wins and nowhere near the competition we had out of league,” Keller said. “That part is disappointing. We did everything we could to schedule and prepare ourselves to be in this discussion.”

Keller filled in a last-minute head coaching vacancy for the Rams when former coach David Bruner decided to step down. This season will be Keller’s first and last as a football coach, he announced after Friday’s win versus Hayden. Keller will give his letter of resignation to the South Routt School District Board of Education next month, and a replacement search will begin.

“I’m so proud of our kids,” Keller said. “It could have been a situation where they looked to make an excuse out of it and mail in the season. They performed beyond my wildest dreams in practice every day and in games.”

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll


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