Soroco football trounces rival Hayden by 37 in regular-season finale
Oak Creek — In standard season-ending fashion, players from Soroco and Hayden high school football teams gathered around their coaches, their teammates, even some family, attentive to what their head coaches preached after the final buzzer sounded in Oak Creek.
They knelt shoulder to shoulder, heads buried in their hands, a few trying to force tears back. For the suited-up seniors especially — Hayden’s two and Soroco’s six — the final seconds ticking off the clock meant the last times they’d wear their schools’ colors on the gridiron.
Hayden knows it was its last time playing in 2014.
The Rams — well, they don’t know quite yet.
Soroco overwhelmed the Tigers on Friday, ripping off 30 unanswered points in the first half en route to a 43-6 rivalry trouncing. In doing so, the Rams improved to 5-3, secured the 8-man Western Slope League’s second-place spot, and gave the state playoff committee a bit more to think about during the weekend.
But just a quick glance at the Rams’ seniors, huddled around their coach with tear-soaked faces, made it sure seem that no matter if they slip into the top-heavy 8-man playoffs, Friday night meant more than anything that may or may not happen in a week.
“We’ve talked all week that regardless of what happened tonight, we’ve had a good year,” Soroco coach Josef Keller said. “This makes it better, and hopefully we get to continue into the playoffs.
“But 5-3, second place in our league and a big win here to end it against our rivals, that’s a lot more than a lot of people thought would happen with this team.”
Hayden started its season much like Soroco: weathering an awkward schedule and bearing down in blowout losses to some of the state’s best squads. The Tigers hit stride about midway through their 2014 schedule, finding some identity behind its few seniors.
Then the injuries hit, and they hit hard. Quarterback Garrett Camilletti was gone to a broken leg. Leading rusher Jack Redmond watched from the sidelines in Oak Creek on Friday after suffering a concussion in a previous game. A few seniors never even got on the field this season, nursing bad injuries themselves.
The Tigers fielded just 13 players against Soroco, and the Rams made them pay.
Big scores through the air by Soroco quarterback Warren Hayes and on the ground from Rams Eric Logan and Carl Rossi blew things wide open in the first and second quarters. The Rams racked up 390 total yards — 271 in the first half — compared to the Tigers’ 170 to grab their second-straight win in the cross-county rivalry after a decade of losses.
“Hayden was playing hard,” said Rossi, a senior. “Their backs were against the wall. We gave them everything we had, and we came out on top.”
Rossi had a 47-yard touchdown, while Logan compiled 128 rushing yards with a score and another receiving touchdown. Junior speedster Storm Veilleux had 13 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown.
Unlike Soroco’s seniors, though, Hayden’s were well aware of their end-of-the-season fate heading into Friday. So as the score got out of reach, Hayden’s couple of seniors left in uniform went out with a bang.
Taylor Lewis, who wears No. 42, a common running back number, has been relegated to the offensive and defensive lines since he stepped foot on campus. With Soroco up big, Hayden coach Shawn Baumgartner gave him a taste of life in the backfield, giving the big guy five carries for 22 yards.
“It was a blast,” Lewis said. “I’ve been taught the last three years that I belong on the line, and now I got the chance to get the ball and I wanted to show my team what I had.”
Fellow senior Tanner Guire was the Tigers’ lone bright spot offensively in the loss, filling in for an injured Jack Redmond with 21 carries and 165 yards with a late 45-yard touchdown.
“When you come in with two seniors, four sophomores, two freshmen, we fought,” Baumgartner said. “Our kids didn’t give up. We didn’t lay down, so you have to be proud of their effort.”
Hayden packs it in for the season, but Soroco will find out its playoff fate after this weekend. If the Rams are in, they will likely be around the 16 seed and will face off against the state’s best on the road.
“If they say we’re one of the top 16 seeds in the state, we’ll take it,” Keller said. “And if not, we’ve had a heck of a year without it.”