Rams stay unbeaten with 41-7 win
CARBONDALE – Good teams win. Exceptional teams make statements while winning.
Roaring Fork wanted to send a message to the rest of the Class 2A Western Slope Conference in Friday’s game with Olathe. Ram running back James Leonard took it personally.
After shredding Olathe’s defense for 174 yards and scoring three touchdowns in a 41-7 rout, the undefeated Rams’ call to the rest of the WSC was more than a message.
It was more like an all points bulletin.
And the latest victory for the Rams (3-0 overall, 1-0 WSC), will certainly send shockwaves through the rest of the league.
“This game was the first that means something,” said Roaring Fork head coach Tory Jensen.
Wins in the league lead to a state playoff appearance – a goal of the Rams since the start of the 2003 season.
Leonard, a senior, got the ball rolling with a 57-yard TD run two minutes into the first quarter. Olathe followed up the Ram score with a 15-play, 73-yard drive of their own for a 7-all tie late in the period.
The Pirate touchdown angered Roaring Fork.
“Olathe gave us some fits,” said Jensen. “So we came out and we decided that we were going to set the tone.”
Going by the way the Rams scored touchdowns after Pirate Rod Brashers’ 9-yard catch, the Roaring Fork tone pulsated like hyperbeats inside Olathe helmets.
Backup quarterback Aaron Markham, subbing for Ram starter Dan Markoya, who sat out Friday after suffering a concussion in last week’s victory at Rifle, zipped a 55-yard pass to Ram wide receiver Max Green after the kickoff to gain the lead for good.
Leonard recovered an Olathe fumble on defense a few plays later.
And the Rams were off to the races.
Markham hit receiver Dustin Caughern with a 27-yard strike for a 21-7 lead. Markham finished 5-for-7 for 125 yards with 2 TDs.
Jensen said it is not surprising that Markham would do well leading the Rams’ offense.
“We made some adjustments to him versus Dan (Markoya),” the coach said. “Aaron threw the ball well, took care of the football and ran the offense. I expect great things out of Aaron and he’s a super leader.”
Despite leading by two touchdowns, the Rams wanted more.
“We wanted to hit (Olathe) in the mouth and create a little attitude,” said Jensen. “So we did.”
Changing to the I-formation in the second half, Roaring Fork let Leonard carry the load.
“We wanted to slow things down little bit, because we passed a lot in the first half,” Leonard said of the change. “We wanted to show we could control the ball on the ground and make a statement.”
The Pirates heard the call loud and clear.
Leonard carried the ball seven times in the Rams’ 8-play, 66-yard drive starting the second half. It culminated with Leonard’s 28-yard TD run.
An interception by Roaring Fork defensive back Parker Nieslanik three plays later allowed Leonard added touchdown No. 3.
Operating from the Pirate 29, Leonard scored from nine yards out. Ahead 35-7, Jensen cleared the bench and let the subs play the entire fourth quarter.
Sophomore Cody Jeffryes scored the game’s final touchdown on a 12-yard run with 9:22 left.
The team’s play has Jensen excited for next week’s game at Hotchkiss, set for 7 p.m. Friday.
“The kids are up,” he said. “Hotchkiss is the real deal, so we’ll step it up a bit and see what happens.”
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