Preps Notebook: Are you ready for some fútbol
The frost is on the pumpkin, big time, which can only mean one thing in the Colorado preps world.
It’s time for fall sports playoffs.
With the start of 2A and 3A football playoffs a week or two off yet, and volleyball regional pairings to be announced Sunday, attention turns to that other foot sport.
Soccer pairings for 2A, 3A and 4A were announced earlier this week, and five high school teams from Garfield County are ready to cut footloose.
The action gets under way at 4 p.m. Friday when Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale plays host to Peak to Peak to open the Class 3A playoffs. Also Friday, Coal Ridge is on the road to play Atlas Prep School, and Rifle — in its first post-season appearance since 2011 — travels to Colorado Springs to play Discovery Canyon.
Continuing Saturday, Glenwood Springs hosts Standley Lake at 1 p.m. Stubler Memorial Field.
Welcome to the party
It’s been a long time coming, but the Rifle Bears soccer program has turned a corner.
Finishing 10-5 and third in the 4A Western Slope League at 8-4, Rifle is in the playoffs for the first time since a concerted rebuilding effort began under former coach Rich Carter.
Current coach David Romero was an assistant at that time, and remembers the rough times as the Bears petitioned to drop from 4A to 3A for a few years, before returning to the larger-school classification.
“I’ve been here four years now, and this is our first year with a positive record,” Romero noted.
For a Bears team that features 10 seniors, getting to the playoffs has been about believing in themselves and hard work.
“Absolutely, these guys have been putting the time in year-round,” Romero said of greater club participation in the off-season and the introduction of indoor training during the winter months.
Rifle enters the 32-team 4A field as the No. 23 seed. The Bears face No. 10 Discovery Canyon at 3 p.m. Friday at D20 Stadium.
Hold that line
Defense is the name of the game when No. 13 Glenwood Springs hosts No. 20 Standley Lake on Saturday afternoon.
The 10-2-3 Demons gave up only six goals on the season before running into the eventual top-seeded Battle Mountain on Oct. 22 — a 6-2 loss that gave the Huskies the league title.
“One of our core strengths has been defense,” coach Wayne Smith said. “Our keeper, Carlos Guardado, is one of the better keepers in class, if not the state.
“We haven’t scored a ton of goals, so that defense has been our forte all year.”
Standley Lake comes into the playoffs at 9-6 which, considering they play in the always-tough 4A JeffCo League, is something serious for the Demons to consider.
The Gators finished third in league behind Golden, the No. 2 seed in the 4A playoffs, and No. 32 Littleton.
Perhaps playing to the Demons’ advantage, as well as two other area teams set to host first-round soccer matches, will be a unique home-field advantage.
Glenwood Springs and Roaring Fork, which enters the 3A playoffs as the No. 5 seed, both play their home games on modified football fields.
The fields are narrower and shorter than regulation soccer dimensions, but within Colorado High School Activities Association regulations.
And, the fact that they’re natural grass instead of artificial turf, as many Front Range teams are used to playing on, it can have an impact on the game style.
“It slows the game down, which is usually to our advantage a little bit,” Smith said.
Last year, Roaring Fork upended a tough Salida team at home in the quarterfinals of the 3A playoffs.
The Salida coach, while acknowledging the Rams’ prowess, also took a jab at the “cow pasture” of a field that the Spartans had to play on.
Fair warning to the No. 28 Peak to Peak Pumas, who come to town Friday evening. This a cow country, after all.
And, maybe a word of advice for the neighboring Colorado Rocky Mountain School Oysters, who enter the 12-team 2A soccer playoffs as the top seed, earning a first-round bye until the Nov. 6 quarterfinals.
CRMS is set to host the winner of the Denver Christian-Mile High Academy matchup on Saturday. Given the weather and field conditions, CRMS has been considering moving the game to a neutral turf field.
A suggestion: Don’t do it! CRMS was founded out of a rugged ranching heritage. Carbondale’s still a cow town. Your mascot says it all.
Show those Front Range prep schools what it’s all about out here in Rocky Mountain Oyster country.
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