Cougars destroy Wranglers, 35-0Sep 24, 2017 By Scott Akanewich, Sports Editor
Friday afternoon's football game between Shoshoni and Wind River at Wrangler Field began in bright sunshine, but as the conditions slowly, but surely, deteriorated until hail was pelting the playing surface midway through the second quarter, so did the home side's chances of a victory against their Fremont County rivals.
Alas, the Cougars went on to defeat the Wranglers, 35-0, in a game which was a battle between the hash marks, as both sides attempted to smack each other in the mouth with their respective running games.
The Wranglers got the ball to begin the game, but were quickly forced to punt after a three-and-out, which provided the Cougars with their first opportunity to put points on the board, as the low clouds moved in from the nearby Owl Creek Mountains.
However, despite a pair of first downs on powerful running from Morgan Miller and Ben Hoopengarner, Wind River turned the ball over on downs after a fourth-down pass from quarterback Dillan Cachelin to Jordan Kline fell incomplete.
Shoshoni then picked up a pair of first downs, including a nice run by signal-caller Wade Cornell, but then gave the ball right back to the visitors when Cornell fumbled moments later.
On the next offensive series, the Wranglers defense came up big with a sack of Cachelin on a third-down conversion attempt and got the ball back.
But, after positive gains by Andrew Jennings and Wyatt Ramsay, Shoshoni faced a 3rd-and-11, on which they once again put the ball on the wet ground, with Hoopengarner covering it for the Cougars.
On this occasion, Wind River would capitalize on the Wrangles' mistake.
The Cougars took over on the Shoshoni 36-yard line and on first down, Wind River head coach Mykah Trujillo pulled one out of his bag of tricks, as Cachelin handed off to Hoopengarner, who pulled up in the backfield and fired a strike to Kline, good for a 25-yard gain inside the Wranglers' 10-yard line.
Trujillo said the play was something he and his players have been cooking up for quite some time.
"It's something we've been practicing and the kids wanted to run it," he said. "So, we just went with it."
Only two plays later, Kage Vogel scored the game's first points on a six-yard run, followed by a Kline kick to make it 7-0 with 2:23 left in the opening quarter.
From that point, the weather continued to steadily worsen and so did the Wranglers' prospects.
On their first possession of the second quarter, Cachelin connected with Hoopengarner for a nine-yard scoring pass and a 13-0 lead, which they maintained until halftime.
Any hopes of a Shoshoni fightback were quickly quashed when Kline fielded the second-half kickoff and returned it 80 yards for a touchdown after only 12 seconds had elapsed in the third quarter, increasing the Cougars' advantage to 19-0.
Miller scored for Wind River, then added another Vogel score with only three second remaining in the game to drive home the final nail in the Wranglers' coffin.
According to Trujillo, the victory was sweet for his players.
"It was a win for our kids," said Trujillo. "They've had a tough season so far, but today they finally got to see what they could do against a team in their own class."
Especially satisfying was the fact the win was against their rivals in the Wranglers and on their home field, said Trujillo.
"Nothing beats a rivalry game," he said. "For me, it has the feel of a playoff game."
In fact, the game emotional got to the point of Ramsay being ejected after a late hit and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Trujillo was proud of the fact his players chose not to stray over the line.
"We want our kids to be aggressive," he said. "But, we also want them to have good character and not sacrifice their integrity."
The victory came at just the right time for his club, said Trujillo.
"All along, as coaches, we've been telling the boys they have potential," he said. "But, it's huge for them to finally prove it to themselves on the field -- this is huge for our confidence moving forward."
Shoshoni (0-4, 0-1 Class 1-A West) will next face Saratoga at home next Friday, while Wind River (1-3, 1-0 Class 1-A West) will host Rocky Mountain.
Wind River 7 6 14 8 -- 35
Shoshoni 0 0 0 0 -- 0