Postseason over for Rams
TRINIDAD – Getting to the state football playoffs hasn’t been a problem for Roaring Fork High School.Winning in the playoffs … well … hasn’t gone as well.Saturday at Dutch Nogel Field at Miner Stadium, the Rams made another early exit from the postseason, dropping a 26-7 decision to Trinidad in the opening round of the Class 3A state playoffs.Trinidad, 9-1, moves on to the quarterfinals, when it will travel to Brush to take on the state’s No. 2-ranked team. Roaring Fork, the Western Slope League champion, ended its season at 8-2.Not since the 2000 season had Trinidad played in a postseason game. And not since 1992, the same year it won a state championship, had the Miners won a playoff game.”It’s been a long time; it feels really good,” Trinidad veteran head coach Randy Begano said. “The players worked their butts off. It’s good for Trinidad.”Roaring Fork, meanwhile, has made eight consecutive appearances in the playoffs. During that span, the Rams have lost in the first round twice and five times in the quarterfinals. In 2003, Roaring Fork made the semifinals.Saturday was a case of missed opportunities for the Rams, who scored first before surrendering 26 consecutive points.In fact, Roaring Fork was in Trinidad territory six times in the game and came away with that lone score – a Kade Gianinetti 12-yard run to open the second quarter. All five first-half possessions penetrated Miner territory but each time Roaring Fork’s offense sputtered.One interesting key statistic: Roaring Fork was 0-for-4 on fourth-down conversions, while Trinidad went for it on fourth down on four occasions, converting first downs each time.The Miners, the Tri-Peaks League champion, dominated the second half after clinging to a 13-7 halftime advantage.Behind the three-headed option attack of Jarrod Valdez, Matt Gallegos and Gabe Santistevan, Trinidad exploded for 203 yards in the second half, 359 for the game, scoring a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns.Valdez, who finished with 148 yards, tallied the final touchdown on a 3-yard burst with 3:47 to play. That capped the final of four long scoring drives by the Miners, who went 77, 74, 75 and 90 yards for scores.”We have a really good line. They open up holes for us, and we’re all pretty shifty and fast,” said Valdez, who had runs of 36 and 35 yards and added a 39-yard halfback pass to set up three of the touchdowns. “We’re really excited.”Gallegos, Trinidad’s crafty quarterback, rushed for 74 yards and threw for 45 more. He scored the Miners’ first touchdown in the second quarter that tied the game at 7-7 on a 10-yard run, added a 9-yard scamper late in the second quarter and capped his afternoon with a 20-yard scoring pass to Cody Hanley in the third quarter. That tally provided the Miners with a 19-7 cushion.Santistevan, the fullback, added 53 yards on 14 carries, mostly on bursts up the middle.While the offense moved the ball with precision, the Trinidad defense stole the show, especially in the second half.The Miners, who had allowed 166 yards and 10 first downs to Roaring Fork in the opening half, surrendered only 16 yards and no first downs in the final 24 minutes.”The first three series (of the game) they were on our side of the 50, and we gave up only one score,” Trinidad’s Begano said. “Our defense came to play. We’ve been preaching we’re going to beat people down in the second half, and that’s what happened.”Roaring Fork head coach Mike Brinson gave the Miners credit.”They definitely made fewer mistakes,” he said. “That’s what we told our kids, that the team who makes the fewest mistakes in the playoffs usually wins. They are a big, solid, physical team. We didn’t capitalize on the opportunities that were given us. And they did a good job making some big plays.”We wanted to keep playing football. We didn’t feel like we were done playing.”Gianinetti, the Rams’ quarterback who missed the first half of the season with broken ribs, said it was all about making plays.”We had trouble getting our offense going right away,” said Gianinetti, who threw for only 47 yards on 4-for-13 passing. “Our defense held them and … we missed a few assignments and that made the difference. They had more big plays than we did.”
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Down 14-7 with less than 11 minutes left in regulation, Rifle head coach Todd Casebier decided it was time to deviate from his ground-and-pound offense for a bit of an aerial attack.