Rifle looks to make strides in 2010 | PostIndependent.com

Rifle looks to make strides in 2010

John Gardner
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
John Gardner Post IndependentRifle head football coach Damon Wells watches over a recent practice.

RIFLE, Colorado – This year could be viewed as a rebuilding year for the Rifle Bears football team after a 4-6 record last year, but that is not the way head coach Damon Wells sees it.

“Our goal is to get a little bit better every day,” Wells said. “The only thing we would be disappointed by is if, at the end of the year, we are in the exact same spot as we are now.”

The team does have some odds stacked against them. First, it is the one of the least experienced teams in the 3A Western Slope League, returning only two starters from last year’s squad. The team has only four seniors as well.

“We are just young,” Wells said.

But youth won’t be an excuse for Wells, or for the team.

“It’s a unique situation,” he said. “This is my 11th year at Rifle and it’s never been like this.”

As Wells explains it, this is a unique opportunity for younger players to gain more experience.

“It’s an exciting time for them because never before has there been such an opportunity to play football on Friday nights at such a young age,” Wells said.

Of the two returning starters, one will lead the offense at quarterback in Keaton Deere, who was the backup signal caller last season. Deere also started at cornerback on defense last season. He will again pull double duty this year, though he will move from defensive back to linebacker.

With a good foundation of younger players, like sophomore Cody Beauford, who’ll play linebacker as well as on the offensive line, there is room to develop.

The Bears will look to effectively run the ball this year, with junior Alex Copeland leading the way at running back. A productive running game has been a staple of the Bears’ offense in years past, and utilizing the talents of several running backs will not change this year.

“One thing that we’ve found to be successful here, and I hope it proves successful this year too, is that we will have several kids carry the ball,” Wells said.

But, Wells said, establishing the running game will come down to key blocking, which has been a focus in preparing for the season.

“I think that is where our success, and our failure, will come from,” Wells said.

And, this season, every game possesses its own challenges. According to Wells, the Western Slope League is kind of like the Southeast Conference of high school football. Games against Olathe, Palisade, Delta and Grand Valley highlight the schedule.

“It’s a tough road home in our league,” he said. “And in the non-league games, we certainly didn’t duck anybody.”


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