It might seem a little odd for one of the three largest high schools in the state to play their sophomore team against a much smaller Class 1-A 9-man team composed of freshmen and sophomores with three juniors, but that was the format Saturday at Pavillion.
Wind River had to scramble for games at Saratoga forfeited their opener, and St. Stephen’s cancelled their entire season so Casper Natrona it was.
It didn’t matter, it was a great high school football game with the Sophomore Mustangs winning 21-12.
“I couldn’t see playing my starters, and my seniors against a sophomore team,” Wind River head coach Rod Frederick said.
The Cougars have an interesting matchup next Friday when they travel to Basin to play the upstart, 2-0 Riverside Rebels in Wind River’s opening Class 1-A West 9-man tilt.
Hard-hitting defense highlighted the opening period with the quicker Cougars bringing the heat to a much larger Natrona County team.
Neither offense could generate consistent drives, and neither punted well either with erratic snaps and shanked punts the rule of the day. They both quit punting and went for fourth-down conversions during the final three periods of the game.
Natrona was unable to run well, but they threw the ball accurately behind quarterback Luke Russel. Russel found Ethan Wisehart of the game’s first score midway through the first period. Russel exited the game a few plays later after making a collision on a tackle.
Junior Brayden Tatro provided the offensive firepower for the Cougars, scoring Wind River’s first touchdown on a seven yard run early in the second period. The conversion failed and Wind River trailed 7-6.
Backup quarterback Josh Barton entered the game and found Royce Jurgensen for a six-yard scoring pass to give the lower division Mustangs a 14-6 lead at intermission.
Tatro broke around the right side on Wind River’s second drive o the third period, racing 62 yards for the score. The conversion again failed, and the score was set at 14-12.
A final Natrona touchdown came with 2:22 left in the third when Barton scrambled into the secondary for a 34-yard touchdown.
Wind River Junior Varsity 0 6 6 0 – 12
Natrona County Sophomores 7 7 7 0 – 21
NC – Ethan Wisehart 5-pass from Luke Russel (Gavin Patik kick) 7:31
WR – Brayden Tatro 7-run (run failed) 11:22
NC – Royce Jurgensen 6-pass from Josh Barton (Patik kick) 1:03
WR – Tatro 62-run (run failed) 6:00
NC – Barton 34-run (Patik kick) 2:22