It’s Pirates and Rams redux
CARBONDALE – It’s an even year, so Roaring Fork must be playing Monte Vista in the playoffs.By G. Sean KellyGSPI Sports EditorCARBONDALE – It’s an even year, so Roaring Fork must be playing Monte Vista in the playoffs.The Rams have played the Intermountain League squad in alternating years in the playoffs since 2000, and Saturday’s 1 p.m. contest at Roaring Fork High School will be the rubber match between the two squads. Monte Vista (8-1) downed Roaring Fork (7-2) in 2002, and the Rams came out on top in 2000. “There is some familiarity,” Roaring Fork coach Tory Jensen said. “They are huge up front and they’ve got some good backs. I mean they are absolutely huge.”Jensen estimates the Pirates linemen outweigh Roaring Fork by 30 pounds per player, but he also points out that the discrepancy is nothing new for the Rams.”We’ve seen big kids all year,” he said. “That’s part of the nature of our world.”Running behind that big Monte Vista line are Omar Gonzales and Joe Kelso. The pair combined for more than 1,600 yards this season. Quarterback Sigi Rodriguez adds another 374 yards rushing and is also dangerous with his arm if the Rams decide to key on the rushing game too much. “You have to respect him, for sure,” Jensen said of the Pirate quarterback. “He’s got a good little receiver out there and they can hurt you.”Clinton Medina is the main target for Rodriguez, with 29 catches on the season.Defense is the strength of the Pirates, who average less than nine points allowed per game. Monte Vista has only allowed opponents to score more than six point three times this season.Roaring Fork boasts a balanced attack offense, but running back/linebacker Jake Bowman has proved to be an essential cog on both sides of the ball.The only 3A loss this season came with Bowman on the sidelines, and the junior galloped for over 200 rushing yards and led the team in tackles in the Rams’ 35-27 comeback victory over Basalt in last week’s regular-season finale.Bowman has more than 800 yards on the season to go along with 341 receiving yards. The most dangerous air combination for the Rams, however, is the hookup between quarterback Aaron Markham and Parker Nieslanik. Of Markham’s 1,400-plus passing yards this season, 611 have found the hands of Nieslanik.”We just need to execute and get to our blocks,” Markham said. “We feel we can do a few things to offset their size. We know they are a good team, so we’ve got to pick our spots to take chances.”Defensively, Roaring Fork counters the Pirates’ size with speed, particularly in the linebacker position. Bowman is a speedster with more than 100 takes (64 solo). Fellow linebackers Trevor Hunt and Christian Tena boast 80 and 73 tackles, respectively.”We’re just going to use our speed and smarts to get by,” Bowman said. “Size doesn’t matter.”The winner of Saturday’s game advances to the quarterfinals against the winner of Brush (7-2) and St. Mary’s (5-4) on Nov. 13.The winner of Saturday’s game advances to the quarterfinals against the winner of Brush (7-2) and St. Mary’s (5-4) on Nov. 13.
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Under bluebird skies, fans flocked to the X Games Aspen venue at the base of Buttermilk. After a year without fans, thousands returned and were treated to lots of action and great weather.