Rams ready for a shot at the champions
CARBONDALE – A premium football game – possibly the best of the Class 2A playoffs – comes to Carbondale Saturday as Roaring Fork hosts the defending 2A champ Faith Christian.”The main thing that jumps out at me is that there’s no real weakness,” said Rams head coach Matt Hauptly of the unbeaten Eagles, who advanced to Saturday’s quarterfinal contest by walloping Burlington 58-8 last weekend.”There’s a reason why they’re 10-0 and have been as dominant as they’ve been,” Hauptly noted. “They’re big, fast and execute well.”Faith Christian has rushed for more than 3,000 yards this season and has scored 503 points, which includes 77-0 and 60-0 routs over regular-season foes Machebeuf and Sheridan.Eagles running back Dustin Albright is among the top backs in 2A. The senior averages just over 12 yards per carry and has run for over 1,100 yards with 17 touchdowns.
Backfield mate, Tom Payne also presents a threat when handed the ball. Payne has racked up 546 yards and scored 13 TD’s while averaging 8.8 yards a carry.Offensively, the Eagles have the luxury of a large, deep group of lineman to run behind.”They look to be about 230-260 pounds,” Hauptly said. “And they have separate personnel on each side of the ball. They platoon 100 percent (of the time). No one at all plays both ways.”While Hauptly pointed out Faith Christian prefers to run the ball, the Eagles can rely on their passing game when need.Quarterback Tyler Funk, a junior, has completed 55 percent of his pass attempts (42-for-70) for 14 touchdowns with six interceptions. Seniors Zack McBeth and John Hargarty are the team’s leading receivers with 16 and 13 catches, respectively.
While the Rams aren’t as big or deep, they too are undefeated and have some equally sparkling offensive totals.Jake Bowman, has racked up more than 1,200 rushing yards and scored 20 touchdowns. Kade Gianinetti, who passed for 125 yards and 10 completions in last week’s 21-12 win over Lamar, has 17 TD passes with only 3 interceptions in 144 attempts.The Rams’ offensive unit also got a boost when the ankle injury wide receiver Parker Nieslanik suffered in the Lamar game wasn’t as serious as it appeared.Rams: see next page
“He’s good,” Hauptly said. “(Parker) took some shots against Lamar, but he’s a rancher’s son and he was right back out there. He was at practice Monday, running around and catching balls and doing great.”What’s also great, Hauptly said. The Rams are home for the playoffs for the second straight week.”It’s always an advantage to play at home,” the coach said. “You don’t have to deal with the logistics on travel – getting place-to-place – and being able to sleep in your own bed. It’s not a game-breaking advantage, but no coach wants to lose that coin flip. I’m pleased we’re at home.”Still, the state playoff draw that had Roaring Fork play two teams with a combined 19-1 record in consecutive weeks, appears to be out of kilter in Hauptly’s opinion.”There’s three undefeated teams (in 2A) and two of them are playing in the second round,” he said, referring to Saturday’s game. “I think who ever is in charge of the bracketing needs to go back and take a look at how this is done. But you have to play all of them at one point,” Hauptly said. “We have Faith Christian this week. And you can’t worry about anything more than that.”
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