One small step: Roaring Fork High School wins first football game in five years

Rich Allen
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Roaring Fork High School football players practice on Oct. 5, 2021, in front of the school’s state championship banners in Carbondale.
Rich Allen/Glenwood Springs Post Independent

It took 1,806 days, but the Roaring Fork High School football team returned to the varsity win column on Oct. 1, downing Olathe 30-20 on the road.

No member of the current Rams’ roster was around when Roaring Fork last won a game, way back on Oct. 21, 2016. This year’s senior leadership was in the seventh grade. By the time they reached high school, the team was competing only in eight-man junior varsity.

During the spring 2021 pandemic season, the program was reborn but went winless. After an 0-4 start to the 2021 fall campaign, a dramatic affair gave the Rams something none of them had ever experienced.

“It means the world,” senior lineman TJ Metheny said. Metheny is one of six seniors listed on the roster and the only one, he said, remaining from the 2018 squad. “It feels like everything I’ve been working up to culminated at once.”

Metheny saw a few wins at the JV level but was quick to discount them. He persevered through a winless eight-man campaign, a JV season and then the spring season’s 0-6 return to the varsity platform.

The long-awaited “W” did not come easily, either. The Rams and Pirates played through a scoreless first half before Roaring Fork came to life. The Rams tallied 24 points in six and a half minutes during the third quarter, head coach Eric Bollock said. After another score, a lightning delay stalled the momentum heading into the fourth quarter, as if divine forces were resisting the Rams’ return. Fresh out of the break, Olathe put the Rams on their heels with 20 fourth quarter points.

The Rams held on to hit a major milestone in the rebuilding process.

“What I’ve been working on is just getting those kids to believe in themselves and their ability,” Bollock said. “Just believing that they were capable of winning was the first hurdle.”

Bollock assumed the helm of the team before the beginning of the spring season after being an assistant and leading the middle school program.

He said he didn’t expect the first win to take a season and a half, but acknowledged that getting the talent he sees in his players to translate to football has taken some time.

As Metheny said, everything is starting to culminate.

“They’re learning the game,” Bollock said. “Their knowledge of the game is very young. They’ve come a long way and they’re believing in themselves.”

Roaring Fork football coach Eric Bollock directs players during an Oct. 5 practice in Carbondale.
Rich Allen/Glenwood Springs Post Independent

But there is still work to do. Roaring Fork is 1-4 overall and 1-2 in the Class 1A Western Slope League. There’s a lot of room to grow between the current state of the team and the plaques hanging from the shed at the practice field honoring the program’s three state championships from 1973 to 1985.

A town-wide football overhaul that began with the transition to JV and trickles all the way down to pee-wee hopes to continue the upward trajectory.

“I really hope we can produce more, win more games in the next few years,” said Max Bollock, the sophomore starting quarterback and the coach’s son. “I think we can with a lot of incoming freshmen that are going to be good players and good teammates. We have a few that are leaving that’s going to really kick us in the dirt a little bit, but if everyone just keeps rolling, I think we can be pretty good in the next few years.”

Metheny is one of those players leaving after this season, so it’ll be a scramble to soak up every win he can before he departs. He has four more chances, starting with a road trip to Estes Park on Saturday.