Rams hoping for a healthy 2011 | PostIndependent.com

Rams hoping for a healthy 2011

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

CARBONDALE, Colorado – Ed Torres and Phil Gomez sat and watched a disappointing season unfold from the sidelines in 2010, knowing all the while they could have made a difference.

The Roaring Fork football seniors, who sat out last season with knee injuries, hope a healthy 2011 awaits.

And not just for them.

Torres and Gomez had plenty of teammate company in the infirmary. A rash of injuries to key players dealt the Rams a blow in 2010, a blow from which they never recovered en route to a 3-7 campaign.

“It was really hard for me when I got injured,” said Gomez, a linebacker and offensive lineman. “Right before that, we were looking good. I’d never missed a football game. I’ve started since I was a freshman. It was hard, knowing I could have helped the team.”

Now healthy, Gomez and company are ready to steer Roaring Fork to a better fate.

“We’re capable of anything as long as we work hard,” Gomez said.

“We’re the underdogs in this league,” chimed in Torres, who plays receiver, running back and in the defensive backfield. “We’ve got nothing to lose.”

That underdog mentality is something embraced by Tory Jensen, who is back as the Rams’ head coach this season after serving a previous stint as frontman from 1997 to 2004. It’s an approach that meshes well with the family atmosphere the new coach is pushing in Carbondale.

“The biggest thing for us and Roaring Fork has always been about the family,” Jensen explained. “We’re fighting from behind.”

Back in Jensen’s time, Roaring Fork was a football powerhouse. In recent years, other schools in the valley have surged ahead of the Rams.

“Basalt’s now established. Aspen’s been going to the playoffs. Glenwood’s been going to the playoffs. Now, we’re like the fourth wheel,” he said. “For a while, we were the lead dogs. We’re now trying to tap into the fact that we’re a family and we’re going to fight for respect, fight to get ourselves back on the map. That’s kind of been our rallying cry.”

A strong junior class and a group of senior leaders will likely determine just how far Roaring Fork takes that rallying cry.

Anchors of that senior group include receiver/defensive back Teddy Benge, wide receiver/defensive back Trent Reeds and running back/linebacker Tanner Gianinetti. Gianinetti and Reeds earned All-2A Western Slope League honorable mention selections in 2010.

“The beauty is we have like 24 or 25 of our group are juniors or seniors,” said Jensen, whose program features around 30 players. “Some have playing time. Some are raw, good athletes – that kind of thing.”

Those athletes will come in handy for Jensen, who plans on running the option a bit.

Leading the attack will be quarterbacks Clay Gross (senior), Dakotah Grett (junior) and Tanner Nieslanik (sophomore). Grett is currently the frontrunner to start Friday’s season opener at Hotchkiss.

Taking the lead in the battle for playing time in the backfield are juniors Johnny Nieslanik and Ty Garcia.

Elsewhere, 2010 All-2A WSL honorable mention Trae Moxley, a 6-foot-6, 265-pound junior, is returning at tight end and on the defensive line.

“These guys are capable of anything they want to do,” Jensen said. “There’s enough talent there to scare some people and give them a hard time.”

Friday’s opener at Hotchkiss kicks off at 7 p.m.


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