Glenwood, Roaring Fork soccer land in preseason top 10
Thanks to two lengthy postseason runs that captivated their communities, expectations are sky-high for the Glenwood Springs Demons and Roaring Fork Rams boys soccer teams.
Those expectations were reflected in the 2019 preseason rankings announced by the Colorado High School Activities Association’s website, as Glenwood Springs came in at No. 6 in 4A, while Roaring Fork came in at No. 5 in 3A.
“We’re kind of flattered by that,” said Wayne Smith, Glenwood’s longtime head coach. “Those [rankings] are based on what you did the previous year, and with prep sports you’re losing players and starting over to a certain degree. We’re fortunate that we have a lot of players back from last year’s group.”
Last season, Glenwood started out just 1-3 and seemed to be stuck in a rut defensively as the Demons gave up 10 goals in the first three games. However, things quickly flipped as Glenwood did some shuffling within the starting lineup. That shuffling sparked the Demons, as Glenwood went on a 10-game unbeaten streak to soar to the top of the league standings, setting the veteran group up for it’s deep playoff run.
Now, with a preseason top 10 ranking slapped on its back right away, Glenwood will get the very best each and every night. With that comes pressure to perform every night, and pressure to try and get back to the state semifinals once again.
“That’s kind of the fun of it,” Smith said. “You work hard to get there and try to stay there, so that’s part of the program to get to the top and teams want to knock you off. In a sense, there is some pressure to stay there, but in another sense it’s a good place to be.”
Roaring Fork made a deep run last spring in 3A under veteran head coach Nick Forbes, reaching the 3A state semifinals, where they pushed the defending state champion Liberty Common Eagles to penalties before falling 2-1. The Rams lost quite a few key players from the 2018 squad under Forbes, but much like Glenwood, Roaring Fork sees a handful of key contributors return, helping the Rams grab the fifth spot in the 3A preseason rankings.
“I think year-to-year in high school, it’s really hard,” Forbes said. “That said, we’re loving that we’re getting that respect. That’s a testament to how we’ve done as a program last five years or so. It’s so variable, though, so we need to go in with a clean slate. This team has just two starters returning, so it’s a whole new team. This team, in terms of experience, isn’t quite there, but they’ve been understudies to those that were so successful last year.
“We’re really excited about the top 5 ranking though, and we’re looking to prove the last few years was who we are as a program overall.”
In girls volleyball, no local schools grabbed a top 10 preseason ranking vote, let alone a spot. That should come as a surprise, at least for Coal Ridge, as the Titans have won three of the last four 3A Western Slope League regular season championships and consistently find themselves in the regional playoffs, including hosting in three of the last four years. All that said, the Titans didn’t even garner a vote in 3A. That doesn’t bother the Titans, though.
“It’s not something that we care too much about at this point, honestly,” said Aimee Gerber, Coal Ridge’s longtime head coach. “It’s certainly frustrating for us, but we know we won’t get a look until we finish near the top of the state. We put in the work, so it’s definitely frustrating to not get noticed, but we’re not focusing on preseason rankings much. We have to let our play do the talking again.”
Coming off of a 2A league championship in its first season in a lower classification, the Rifle Bears football program cracked the top 10 in the 2A preseason football rankings, slotting in at the number five spot in 2A. Rifle moved down a level from 3A and continued to dominate, finishing 9-2 on the year, including a 4-1 mark in 2A with the lone loss coming to Aspen in the waning seconds.
The Bears will once again be in a tough league as Delta (No. 7) and Aspen (No. 9) earned preseason top 10 rankings, while Basalt received 21 top 10 votes and just missed cracking the top 10 overall rankings. Also, Resurrection Christian — which knocked Rifle out of the playoffs last year in the first round, 21-14 — earned the third spot in the preseason rankings.
In 3A, Glenwood Springs received one top-10 vote entering the second year under head coach Pat Engle.
Glenwood opens the season Aug. 30 at Holy Family, while Rifle hosts Grand Valley. Glenwood soccer opens the season August 30 at home against Durango in a battle of two top-10 teams in 4A, while Roaring Fork soccer takes on Vail Mountain Tuesday, Sept. 3, in Carbondale.
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After bowing out of the 3A state soccer playoffs in the quarterfinals and semifinals the past two seasons, the Roaring Fork Rams finally get their shot at a state title on Saturday.