Roaring Fork Rams looking to post first winning season since 2007
Second year Roaring Fork coach Jeff Kelley points to his 10 seniors and seven returning starters as being the strength of the team going into the 2016 football campaign. Kelley is especially confident in his boys in the trenches, as he mentions both the offensive and defensive line play as being an area the Rams can hang their hats — or helmets, if you will.
“Our line play should be really solid this year,” said Kelley. “That is certainly an area of strength for us.” The coach is also quick to mention two seniors, Kade Kennedy and Reed Featherstone, who played both ways in the interior in every game last season.
The Rams started out quickly and in impressive fashion last year by defeating a very tough 1A opponent in the Meeker Cowboys by a score of 16-14. To replicate the stellar beginning of 2015, Roaring Fork’s key ingredients in the recipe for success may be the quarterback play of senior Hayden Bernot, and the Rams’ ability to run the football, where Kelley will be trying to replace all-state rusher Tyler Spence, who graduated and is walking on to the football team at the University of Colorado.
“I think Hayden will do a great job quarterbacking the team. He’s a second year starter, and we may have him run the ball a little bit more this year. We’ll have more plays specifically designed for the quarterback to get out and run,” said Kelley. “With his talent, I think he’ll surprise the league.”
The situation in the rest of the backfield behind Bernot may be a bit more up in the air, as Kelly is contemplating a running back-by-committee approach to start off the season.
“We have some good athletes we can put back there. Aldo Pinela, Alex Dominguez and Jake Kelley may all need to step up at times and play running back for us,” stated Kelley.
As most coaches will tell you this time of year, Kelley said his Rams will need to stay as healthy as possible during the rigors of a long season, and play good, sound, fundamental football.
Kelley sees the road to the WSL championship going straight through Craig and the Moffat County Bulldogs.
“Moffat is the team to beat in the conference,” said Kelley. “Steamboat Springs is dropping down from 3A, so they will be tough. Basalt has some talented kids and lots of returning depth, and that is a big rivalry game for us.”
The Rams lost to both Moffat County (49-23) in Craig, and to Basalt in a close contest (21-17) in Basalt.
Turning the tables this season against those two teams especially, will go a long way toward the Rams’ chances of being in the playoff chase. Roaring Fork was able to muster Western Slope League wins against only Aspen (51-24) and Coal Ridge (27-0) last year.
Roaring Fork will open the season at home on Sept. 2 against an Olathe team that is always well-put-together.
The conference slate pits the Rams against Moffat County and Steamboat Springs to start things off, so it will be right out of the frying pan and into the fire for the crew from Carbondale.
Battling a lack of depth and several tough conference dates could be a season-long challenge for the Rams, but if their bevy of two-way players can stay healthy, and stay the course, look for Roaring Fork to give everyone on its schedule plenty of trouble.
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