Roaring Fork football preview: No rest for Rams in 2014
Special to the Post Independent
ROARING FORK RAMS
Head Coach: Tory Jensen (13th season, fourth consecutive)
Last Season: 4-5 overall, 2-3 in 1A Western Slope League play, no postseason.
Returning Starters, Offense/Defense: 7/7
Base Formations, Offense/Defense: Spread/4-4
Key Returners: Edgar Villasano, Sr., QB/DL, 5-9, 200; Adrian Chavaz, Sr., WR/DB, 6-1, 165; Roy Benge, Sr., WR/DB, 6-0, 150; Sergio Vega, Jr., RB/LB, 5-8, 150; Jose Lopez, Sr., RB/LB, 5-11, 150; Conrado Dolores, Jr., RB/DL, 5-8, 175.
Could Make A Splash: Finn Featherstone, Jr., WR/LB, 5-9, 150; Max Slack, Jr., RB/LB, 5-6, 140.
Potential Key Games: The Rams open the season Aug. 29 at Meeker, a tough 1A opponent and a former league rival. Regional rivalry games against Basalt (Sept. 2), Coal Ridge (Sept. 15), and Aspen (Oct. 13) will be key league contests, but Jensen knows Roaring Fork’s nonleague schedule is just as important when it comes to a potential postseason berth.
CARBONDALE — The Roaring Fork High School football team of 2014 will have to be mid-season ready as they step into the proverbial fire when they journey north to Meeker to face one of the tougher teams in the 1A ranks to open the schedule on Aug. 29.
Veteran Ram coach Tory Jensen wants his team to start strong. It’s a challenge he thinks they will be ready for.
“Meeker is a very good 1A team,” said Jensen, who is entering his 13th campaign on the Roaring Fork sidelines. “We’ll certainly be trying to get off on the right foot in that one.”
The Rams will return seven starters from last season on both sides of the ball, and they’ll hang their hats on their overall team speed. The strength of the offensive and defensive lines is a concern right now, but coach Jensen believes that will evolve with time and practice.
“We’re a work in progress up front right now, but that will come,” Jensen said. “We have the kids who can do it. They just have to prove themselves.”
As is the case with most contenders, Roaring Fork will rely on some solid seniors to show the way through the challenging Class 2A Western Slope League North schedule. Teamwork is a high priority at the Carbondale school this season, and the veteran leaders on the team say it can’t be stressed enough.
“We have a pretty good chance in this league if we play as a team,” senior wide receiver and safety Adrian Chavaz said. “We beat both Basalt and Aspen last year because we played together.”
Roaring Fork moved up a classification this season thanks to a higher enrollment.
Senior quarterback and defensive end Edgar Villasano is thinking along the same lines as Chavaz. “Our speed and our teamwork will be the key,” Villasano said.
Roy Benge, another senior who will play at wide receiver and defensive back for the Rams, was quick to bring up another pivotal element to his team’s success in the new season.
“We need to take care of the football and limit the turnovers,” Benge said. “That was our big downfall last year. We would be right in a game and then start giving the ball back to the other team.”
On offense, when they decide to go to the ground game and kick up some dust, the Rams will use a running back-by-committee approach. Sergio Vega, Jose Lopez, Conrado Dolores, and Max Slack will all be counted on to grind up some tough yards when it’s necessary to keep the ball in the hands of the team wearing blue and gold.
In the passing game, the sturdy build and strong arm of Villasano should be able to keep opposing coaches up nights devising a plan to stop him and his fleet stockpile of receivers.
Benge and Chavaz will anchor the defensive backfield. When the lineman mature and get in sync to stop the run, Roaring Fork could have a defense that commands notice.
As a dozen or more players stayed after practice to work on pass routes and catches on Aug. 12, and stereo speakers just off the practice field blasted some hip-hop tunes, coach Jensen spied his charges with a noticeable air of anticipation.
“This is something we haven’t seen much of in years past and it’s great,” said Jensen as he pointed to the kids involved in the extra session. He also reflected on where the Rams have been (the Class 1A WSL) to where they are at now.
“We’ve moved up to the 2A classification, but we came from a league in 1A that’s had the last two state champions [Cedaredge and Paonia]. That’s a very tough league we played in,” Jensen said. “If we can stay healthy and keep kids running around, we have all the bullets in the gun to do something. We just have to be ready.”
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