GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT) The Rifle Bears have not lost more than three games in a season since 2010 so it's safe to say expectations are pretty high for the 2A Western Slope League Champions. Even after losing one of their most dangerous weapons on offense, Rifle is ready to continue the winning tradition.
Rifle's one loss in the regular season last year was by one point to Aspen. The Bears still came away with a 2A Western Slope League title and the assumption has always been that they will be right back at the top of the league.
"At Rifle High school, especially over the course of the last decade, probably the last twenty years, we absolutely believe that rosters change but expectations don't," said head coach Damon Wells. "We tell every group we have that every team has a one year life span. They've been blessed in that they've been taught here's what it requires to be successful. This group has definitely embraced that."
Over the summer, the team left the Centennial State to learn from programs from the likes of Texas and Illinois.
"We do a tremendous amount of work in the offseason," said Wells. "We've been blessed with tremendous support and we've traveled the country and I've really hit the jackpot in many, many regards. We absolutely have a few things that will make us more dynamic, a little better off. We really think our kids can benefit from those things."
Rifle will have to fill the void of running back Tanner Vines who accounted for over 2,200 and 21 touchdowns for the Bears last season. Rifle scrimmaged Grand Junction last week to see how ready their team is for their week one opponent, Grand Valley.
"The ultimate goal was to end today healthy and we have," said Wells. "We consider today a success. We feel blessed to be able to hook up with Coach (Mike) Sirko and play a school two or three times the size of us and to be able to compete physically. That's what we are built on so we hope to continue that."