The playoff picture in the West 9-man was quickly established Thursday night at Pavillion. A battered Wind River fell to Rocky Mountain in the Cougars final home game of the season 35-0.
Ironically, the loss by five touchdowns gives the Cougars the third seed from the west in next week’s opening round of the Class 1-A 9-man playoffs. A close contest, within six points, would have them the fourth seed.
Wind River, Rocky Mountain, and Big Piney all finished the regular season with a 6-2 overall record, and a 5-2 conference mark. Head-to-head they all took turns beating each other and all three lost close games to Shoshoni. The tie-breaker came to point differential.
Two games Friday night on the eastern tier of the state determine the final playoff picture. Shoshoni will host the winner of the Lusk / Wright game in Campbell County, while Wind River will most likely head to Yoder to play Southeast Goshen and Big Piney will make the long trek to Pine Bluffs. The Cyclones and heavily favored Hornets play Friday in Pine Bluffs.
Rocky Mountain will host Lingle-Ft. Laramie.
Wind River played their Senior Night game without junior quarterback Chris Burk and senior, all-purpose yardage leader Jaycee Herbert. The offense was flat and erratic most of the night with the heavy lifting going to junior rushing leader Cooper Frederick.
Defensively the Cougars were physical, but they had no answer for Rocky Mountain senior quarterback Carsyn Weber.
Weber was involved in four of Rocky’s five touchdowns. The 6-2 Weber is quick, with an explosive arm, and was difficult for the Wind River defense to stop once he reached the edge.
The Grizzlies knew the playoff implications of the game and came out gambling with an onside kick that they covered at the Wind River 35-yard line.
Rocky scored on a fourth-down run by Maddox Ames from the five, capping a 10-play drive. The conversion snap sailed off Weber’s hands and the ensuing pass failed.
The Cougars offense looked great on their initial drive, with Frederick scampering on jet sweeps and counters and Calder Johnson plowing up the middle on power plays but they stall at the 44 and punted.
Weber scampered on keepers, spreading the Cougar defense, and connected with 6-4 senior Ben Simmons before losing 15 yards on an errant snap. The loss of yardage didn’t matter, Weber gained 19 on the next play and the drive kept moving south.
Runs by Ames and a reverse to Kelden Boettcher had the ball at the one-yard line as the first period ended.
Just three seconds into the second quarter Weber scored on a sneak. He added the conversion run for a 14-0 Grizzly lead.
Rocky adjusted their defense to overplay the Wind River counter play to Frederick and the Cougar offense sputtered.
Weber capped another long drive on a 23-yard pass to Jackson Hanusa with Colin Haslam converting the kick. The Grizzlies led 21-0 at the half.
Johnson recovered one of two Rocky Mountain fumbles at the 35 early in the third period setting up Wind River’s best drive of the second half. On a fourth and seven just three plays after the fumble, Frederick rolled right behind solid blocks from Casey Befus and Tucker Jensen to move inside the Red Zone. The drive faltered there, with Johnson’s fourth down attempt from the 19 stuffed.
Weber didn’t waste any time, running right, then cutting left down the Rocky Mountain sideline on an 81-yard breakaway that lifted the score to 28-0.
Wind River’s offense rallied briefly on four consecutive Frederick runs, but keepers by quarterback Carter Fowler were read by the Rocky defense with a pair of negative runs, and another 10-yard loss when Fowler had to take an errant snap.
Bad went to worse when Simmons blocked Kyzaia Jones punt.
Weber hit Haslam on a flag pattern for a 48-yard score, and his ensuing kick ended the scoring at 35-0.
The Cougars should be healthy again by next weekend.
Game times for the opening round will be set this weekend by the home team with games played in all five Wyoming prep football divisions played on Friday and Saturday. With the shortage of officials, the playoff times will be adjusted so officiating crews can work multiple contests.
WIND RIVER 0 0 0 0 – 0
ROCKY MOUNTAIN 6 15 14 0 – 35
RM – Maddox Ames 5-run (pass failed) 6:40
RM – Carsyn Weber 1-run (Weber run) 11:57
RM – Jackson Hanusa 23-pass from Weber (Colin Haslam kick) 8:56
RM – Weber 81-run (Haslam kick) 6:45
RM – Haslam 48-pass from Weber (Haslam kick):56