Roaring Fork’s Barlow named Class 3A boys soccer player of the year |

Roaring Fork’s Barlow named Class 3A boys soccer player of the year

Rich Allen
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Ross Barlow clears the ball in the Class 3A boys soccer state championship game on Nov. 12, 2021, at Weidner Field in Colorado Springs.
Rich Allen/Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Hardware continues to fall into the hands of the Roaring Fork High School boys soccer team following its state championship run in November.

Senior captain Ross Barlow was named the Class 3A player of the year, leading four members of the team represented on the all-state roster along with two honorable mentions. Roaring Fork’s Nick Forbes was named coach of the year for the classification.

“It was definitely one of my biggest dreams — state and getting all-state awards,” Barlow said. “I was sitting in one of my classes, and CHSAA hadn’t released it. But Nick knew who won awards, and he sent it to my mom (Roaring Fork High School Athletic Director Crista Barlow), and she announced it over the speaker while I was in class, so that’s how I found out.”

According to MaxPreps statistics, Barlow scored 14 goals and had 19 assists over the course of his senior season for 47 points. The most important, however, was an assist to Josh Hernandez in the state championship game, giving the Rams a 2-1 lead over No. 1 seed Jefferson Academy. It turned out to be the game-winning tally, as the No. 11 Rams completed a not-so-Cinderella run through the playoffs, defeating each of the top three seeds and giving the Jaguars their first loss of the season when it mattered most.

The win delivered Roaring Fork’s first team sport state championship since 1991 and first in the boys soccer program. Forbes named Barlow the player of the game.

“When you set aside your own individual stats — which is a hard skill — you do end up succeeding as an individual anyway, which is a weird conundrum,” Forbes said. “His defining moment in the whole season kind of epitomizes it because it wasn’t a goal, it was a beautiful assist.”

Ross Barlow leads the Roaring Fork Rams in a pregame huddle before the Class 3A boys soccer state championship game on Nov. 12, 2021, at Weidner Field in Colorado Springs.
Rich Allen/Glenwood Springs Post Independent

The Rams’ entire system ran through Barlow, Forbes said. His skill in the midfield, along with Junior Mercado’s — who won the Western Slope League’s player of the year award — allowed Roaring Fork to play an extra striker up high and still have confidence in transition and defense.

Forbes added that many of Barlow’s contributions don’t appear on a stat sheet, especially with his move away from the striker position.

“What we don’t have in those stats is how many tackles he makes and when he starts attacks with those tackles, key passes and all this stuff that you just don’t have the power to take control of unless you watch every game,” Forbes said.

Joining Barlow on the first team were seniors Mercado and Carlos Perez Rios, and junior Emi Magana. Seniors Cole Pargiter-Walker and Braden Stainton were named honorable mentions.

“For four of us to make the first-team all-state is just nuts, because there’s tons of kids throughout 3A,” Barlow said. “I think it’s good to highlight that all these awards are only possible because of how strong of a team we were.”

For Forbes, it’s his second all-state coach of the year award in two seasons — he also guided the Rams to the finals in 2019, where they came up short of the ultimate prize.

“That one felt like a hollow award because of how it went down,” Forbes said. “But this award feels awesome. … This is my baby.”

Forbes highlighted his assistant coaches Jeff Mohsenin and Rod Woelfle, saying the trio take coaching maybe more seriously than their normal jobs.

Roaring Fork head soccer coach Nick Forbes has his chance to show off the hardware from the Class 3A state soccer championship.
John Stroud/Glenwood Springs Post Independent

The trio coordinates varsity and junior varsity together. They commit to the team on a deep level with a passion for it that’s apparent to the players.

“Nick being a coach, he does it for himself,” Barlow said. “The other private school coaches are probably making a lot of money through coaching, and those schools find the best coaches they can. But Nick is, I believe, better than those coaches because he just goes out there and took a public school to state two times in the last three years.”

Also representing the Western Slope League on the all-state roster were Coal Ridge seniors Eddie Salazar on the first team and Ezra Williams on the second team. The Titans finished a close second to the Rams in the league standings with equal 7-1 records and entered the state tournament at a higher seed (No. 6).

Aspen, which had one of its best seasons in years and also made the state tournament, had two players earn honorable mention all-state honors in Brody Taylor and Ansel Whitley.

Crested Butte swept the 2A all-state soccer awards, with Jacob Bernholtz winning player of the year and Than Acuff coach of the year.