Rifle RBs getting the job done
RIFLE – Rocky Rauman and Casie Dunlap admit their running styles aren’t fancy. But, together, the Rifle High seniors have shown they are effective in moving the ball on the football field.”I just run up the middle and pound out the yards,” Dunlap said.It’s a simple plan and a plan that works. “Rocky’s really developed this year,” Dunlap said. “He’s just what we needed.”As a starting backfield, the two have combined for more than 1,300 yards and 18 touchdowns going into Saturday’s Class 3A quarterfinal playoff game against Conifer at Bears Stadium.It was Dunlap’s midseason suggestion to head coach Darrel Gorham that launched their success.”I asked coach Gorham if we could run the I-formation, because I wasn’t the premier back and (the I) would be easier for me to block for Rocky.”The change helped Rifle fashion an 8-3 record, and a three-game winning streak, which included last week’s 28-20 first-round playoff win at Florence.As it’s been most of the season, Dunlap and Rauman carried the Bears in the win over the Huskies.Rauman, with Dunlap blocking, scored twice and ran for a team-high 144 yards. The Bears won the game on quarterback Kyle Sanderson’s 16-yard tie-breaking pass to tight end Zack LaCount with 5:43 left in the fourth quarter. “We were just hitting them and they got tired,” Dunlap said of Florence. “We were a lot more physical than them.”Winning the battle in the trenches is something Rifle hopes to continue this week against the 10-1 Lobos, who advanced to Saturday’s contest with a 20-13 playoff win against Silver Creek.”I think they are going to be tough, but I think we’re going to be fine against them,” Dunlap said. The Metropolitan Conference regular-season runner-up team features a balanced offense and feels equally comfortable running or passing.Running back Dan DeLay averages 7.5 yards per carry and rushed for more than 1,000 yards this season. Last week, the Lobos senior scored all three of the team’s touchdowns against Silver Creek while totaling 107 yards in 24 carries. DeLay also leads the team in receptions with 17.Quarterback Stephen Penta has thrown for 1,186 yards and nine touchdowns. “Penta is a very skilled quarterback, they have two good running backs, some skilled receivers and they are big up front,” Gorham said.Britt Nemeth, a 6-foot, 3-inch, 245-pound senior, anchors the Lobos line. Gorham also said Conifer also has the best defense Rifle has faced in a while. Since suffering a 37-20 loss to conference foe Centaurus in week four, the Lobos have allowed 54 points in their last seven games – all wins – while scoring 226 points.The Bears, who outscored their opponents 340-154 this season, have posted three shutout wins. Two of those blankings came in the regular season’s final two weeks against conference rivals Montezuma-Cortez and Battle Mountain.Gorham said with both teams evenly matched, the outcome of the game could be swayed by a handful of plays.”In a game like this, it comes down to five or six key plays,” he said. “If we make those plays, we have a good chance of winning the game.””In a game like this, it comes down to five or six key plays,” he said. “If we make those plays, we have a good chance of winning the game.”
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