STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Saturday’s homecoming game between Soroco High School and Vail Christian will be the biggest game Western Slope football fans will witness this year. When the teams take to the field, they’ll both boast a 5-0 record. By the end of the 8-man Northwest matchup, just one team will remain undefeated.
The battle of the unblemished will take place on Soroco’s turf on Saturday, Oct. 12, at 7 p.m.
Vail Christian is the top team in the 8-man RPI standings, while Soroco is No. 15. The teams are extremely similar on paper. They both run a ton, drastically outscored all their previous opponents and are led by a talented group of seniors.
“They will be a challenge,” Soroco head coach Johnny DeCosta said. “Last year when we played them, it turned out to be who had the ball last. I don’t expect anything different this year.”
In their 2018 meeting, Vail Christian earned a 74-66 victory.
The senior-heavy Saints
Vail Christian isn’t intimidated by the Rams. Head coach Tim Pierson said his team has been focusing on its own game plan, rather than adjusting to Soroco.
“Trying to get better, getting ready to play a good football team in Soroco. We just do what we normally do, keep it as routine as possible,” Pierson said.
What the Saints normally do is take advantage of their nine-man senior class that is familiar with the team, the coaches and the schemes.
“Any time you’re senior heavy, that makes things easier. They know the offense, we can do a lot of different things,” Pierson said. “Some things have gone our way, and we’ve stayed healthy. A lot has to be said about our seniors and our leadership.”
Vail Christian quarterback Jamison Lee is in his second year under center. The Saints senior is 25 of 46 while passing and has 471 yards in the air. Lee also is confident running, though, racking up 334 rushing yards.
Like most 8-man high school football teams, Vail Christian prefers to run. The team has 17 rushing touchdowns compared to seven passing touchdowns.
Seniors Chris Cappel and Simon Nowicki lead the team with 426 and 476 rushing yards, respectively. Both are also huge threats downfield as receivers.
Cappel has 10 touchdowns this fall over five games, eight being rushing touchdowns.
With some scouting, DeCosta said the guys in front of the running backs seem to be the reason for their success.
“He loves his offensive line,” DeCosta said of Pierson. “They fire off the ball well and puts his guys right behind them. I’m expecting them to run a lot.”
The running Rams
Soroco junior quarterback Tyler Wixom, in his second year as a starter, has shown he can do it all. He’s got 820 total scrimmage yards to his name, 517 coming in the air. Throwing has become a more used option as of late. In the team’s Friday, Oct. 4, win over Plateau Valley, Wixom was 9 for 14 in the air, accumulating 249 passing yards.
Soroco football schedule
- Aug. 31: at South Park, W 34-8
- Sept. 7: vs. Sangre de Cristo, W 54-14
- Sept. 13: vs. Justice, W 78-8
- Sept. 27: vs. Gilpin County, W 58-0
- Oct. 4: at Plateau Valley, W 50-12
- Oct. 11: vs. Vail Christian, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 18: at Rangely, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 25: vs. West Grand, 7 p.m.
- Nov. 1: at Hayden, 7 p.m.
The offense is spearheaded by the ground game, though. Senior Jesse Koler is the team’s top rusher, with 660 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also has a team-high three interceptions. Kody Logan has 351 yards on the ground.
“They’re physical. They’ve got good size, they’re well coached,” Pierson said. “They play hard. They’re a good team.”
The Rams will score no matter the personnel on the field. The team has scored a touchdown on a punt return, as well as a kick-off return. A pair of fumble recoveries have resulted in scores for Soroco as well.
Additionally, the team has six interceptions on the year, coming from four different players.
“I really love our team this year because everyone is playing their heart out this year,” DeCosta said. “I appreciate it, and I respect it. They’re all coming together. Anytime anybody gets on the field, they’re going with everything they have, and I think that shows in our defense and our special teams.”