Rams storm back to beat the Cowboys
Roaring fork High honors past championship teams
“It’s a memory that will last forever,” Mark Englert said of the Roaring Fork Rams’ first state championship in 1973.
The 14-12 victory over Limon was one of three commemorated in a special “Hall of Fame Game” celebration at halftime Friday night, with champs from ‘77 and ‘85 joining in the celebration. Many, like Englert, have long since moved away and hadn’t attended a Rams game in years.
“It rekindles some real fond memories,” he said.
After watching the champions his freshmen year, 1977 team member and former Rams basketball coach Kirk Cheney couldn’t help but shoot for another championship.
“There’s a lot of history here,” he said. “They set the precedent we had to keep up with.”
A single lost to Craig kept them from being too cocky in the postseason, where they were inexplicable ranked 5th in the state in the semi finals. They ended up crushing Brush at home, 44-8.
In 1985, they were unstoppable.
The way Jay Denton remembers it, the team was undefeated with an average score of 49-7. Their reputation was so fearsome that the opposing coach opted to forfeit their first game of the season. The final game against Battle Mountain, however, was a squeaker.
In the end, Pat Dion, “the smallest guy on the field”, tackled future Bronco Jeff Campbell as he attempted a two point conversion, clinching the game for the Rams.
“It was a remarkable team,” said Bill Hanks, who served as offensive coach in ‘85 and head coach in ‘73. “They were outstanding young men.”
Cheney, meanwhile, was back to watching the game.
“It’s all about believing in yourself and believing in your teammates,” he said. “You don’t always have to have the most talented team. You have to be the team that wants it and believes in it.”
With past champions looking on, the Roaring Fork Rams came back from nothing to defeat the Meeker Cowboys 16-14 in their first game of the season.
The first half was hard on Roaring Fork. Meeker stayed on the offensive, and with less than a minute left in the first quarter TJ Shelton put the first points on the board with a run right up the middle of the field. An attempt at a two-point conversion went awry, but was more successful when Shelton repeated his performance near the end of the second quarter, bringing the score to 14-0 at the half.
That’s when the Rams’ former state championship teams from 1973, 1977 and 1985 took the field for a special “Hall of Fame Game” event, which culminated with the unveiling of new lighted signs on the scoreboard commemorating the wins.
Maybe it was the reminder of their heritage. Maybe it the nearly full stands despite First Friday festivities downtown. Maybe newly minted head coach Jeff Kelley, who coached the boys in middle school, gave a rousing speech in the locker room. Maybe they just couldn’t stand another loss to a team that routed them 48-0 this time last year.
Whatever it was, the team that marched back onto the field for the third quarter proved more than a match for Meeker.
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Quarterback Tyler Spence added a rushing touchdown with 5:40 left in the third, putting the first points on the board for the Rams.
After that, things began to heat up. Cowboys defender Robert Jensen was ejected from the game after a rough tackle. As the Rams approached the end zone a second time, Spence dropped back from the 2-yard line and was immediately sacked. After an incomplete pass to wide receiver Jake Kelley, Spence took a chance on a fourth down and charged right up the center through a mob of Cowboys for another touchdown. The kick was blocked, leaving Meeker in the lead 14-13 at the half.
For most of the fourth quarter, the Rams pushed their way across the field. Twice, they risked it all on the fourth down and both times it paid off — once with long run by Aldo Pinela and once with a pass to Alex Dominguez which brought the referees out to measure. Then, a sack on the second down and an incomplete pass on the third put Roaring Fork in a corner. Colin O’Gorman’s 39-yard field goal gave the Rams their first lead of the game, 16-14 with 2:38 left.
Meeker almost came back to win it. With 59 seconds left in the game, they found themselves on the 1-yard line. Both teams went down in the heap and somewhere at the bottom of the pile, a Ram took possession. The clock ran down, and half the school stormed the field, cheering like it was 1985.
“We kept our composure,” a smiling coach Kelley said as the team headed for the lockers. “They play for each other, they know each other, and they believed in each other.”
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It may be by a technicality, but the Valley Valkyries 7s rugby club were the de facto champions of their hosted tournament this weekend.