Seniors powering Rams’ playoff run
GSPI Sports Editor
There’s no doubt familiarity breeds success.
It shouldn’t be a surprise then, with every starter on the offensive side of the ball in his senior year, the Roaring Fork Rams are undefeated and boast an offense that averages nearly 40 points per game against Class 2A football competition.
“It’s been nice growing up with all these kids,” senior lineman Garrett Jammaron said. “We have a strong connection and the whole offensive line knows what each other is doing.”
Having 19 seniors on the roster creates more urgency to this year’s playoff run than normal, as Roaring Fork gears up for Saturday’s quarterfinal game at Estes Park.
“No matter what, (at most) we have three more games,” running back James Leonard said. “I’m looking around at guys I’ve been playing with since third grade.”
Leonard has arguably been the biggest beneficiary of the team’s gelling process in terms of individual statistics. Following fullback Ryan Donnelly and the offensive line, Leonard is ranked in the top five in the state with over 1,500 yards and an average carry of around 8 yards.
Leonard had similar stats through the first half of last season, but was slowed by a hip injury and opposing defenses keying on him down the stretch. The result was a first-round playoff loss for the Rams.
With everyone a year older and a new attack scheme, Leonard hasn’t shown any signs of slowing this year. Running more between the tackles, he was held under 100 yards just once ” a blowout win over Cedaredge in which he saw limited action ” and eclipsed the 200-yard mark twice.
“Last year was a little different,” Leonard said. “I ran with a different style and tried to cut things outside. This year is more power and quick hitting. A more downhill philosophy.”
The Rams’ offensive line ” which includes Jammaron, Misael Fernandez, Ian Black, Dan Ives, Michael Quint and Tommy Joiner or Taylor Arbaney at tight end ” thrives in the new scheme. And it doesn’t hurt that the big guys up front get to play the aggressors rather than the defenders.
With each play an opponent is knocked off his feet, the Rams players earn a hammer sticker to be placed on their helmet. Jammaron is among the team leaders, in part because of his run blocking.
“You get to knock the other kids over as opposed to letting them come to you,” Jammaron said of his preference for run blocking over pass protection.
While the Rams bread and butter is certainly the run, quarterback Dan Markoya has been solid this season with over 800 yards passing. Max Green is one of the fastest and most dangerous receivers in the league with a 22-yard-per-catch average.
Green also moves into the backfield on occasion, just to get the speedster more touches.
Defensively, the Rams are just as solid, allowing just 8.4 points per game.
Estes Park (9-1) should provide a good test, however.
Trevor Holler leads the Bobcats with 1,496 yards rushing and a 5.9 average. Quarterback Eric Carlson has over 800 yards in the air, 218 of which have found the hands of receiver Miles Coffin.
The Estes Park defense has only given up more than two touchdowns twice this season ” once to No. 1-ranked Eaton in a 21-7 loss, and last weekend’s 27-21 overtime win over Kent Denver in the playoff opener.
Game time is 1 p.m. Saturday. The victor advances to play the winner of the Denver Christian-Brush contest. If Roaring Fork advances it will host the semifinal game on Nov. 15.
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