It had all the trappings of a classic rivalry, intense play, key penalties, questionable calls (depending on your viewpoint) hard hitting, long drives, and big scoring plays. Wind River edged into the overall series lead 30-29 with a convincing 54-22 win over a feisty Shoshoni squad at Bailey Field in Shoshoni Friday night.
The win moves the Cougars one game away from hosting throughout the opening two rounds of the playoffs. They’ll have to beat Rocky Mountain in Cowley next weekend to seal the deal.
Shoshoni finishes their regular season at Casper Natrona playing the Mustang JV on Thursday then the Wrangler junior varsity plays Wyoming Indian’s varsity on Friday.
It took Wind River just three plays, and 31 seconds to light up the visitor’s side of the scoreboard after a short Shoshoni kickoff.
Cooper Frederick gained 35 yards on the first play from scrimmage, Joaquin Stevens caught a nine-yard pass from Frederick and Frederick capped the short drive on a nine-yard scamper. Stevens added the conversion run and the Cougars led 8-0 with 11:29 remaining in the opening period.
Frederick finished the game with phenomenal statistics, rushing for 211 yards, scoring five touchdowns, and throwing for a sixth, a 57-yard bomb to Aidan Ruby while throwing just one incomplete pass in 10 attempts.
The game featured hard-hitting by both sides, but the play of Landon Kasper for Shoshoni and Issac Gardner and Aidan Ruby of Wind River was above the pale. Gardner dominated the line of scrimmage, chasing or sacking Wrangler quarterback Braxton Mills on repeated possessions. Ruby was everywhere, breaking up pass plays, turning in a good Shoshoni toss sweep featuring Carson Kisling, and drilling Wrangler running backs and receivers.
Shoshoni quarterback Braxton Mills had a gritty evening of football, getting blasted repeatedly on sacks or hits just as he released the ball. Mills might tip the scales at 140 pounds with his pads on but played much bigger. He was the focus of Gardner, Rowdy Shearer, and Blake Snyder all game.
Wind River quickly built a 16-0 lead, and it looked like the blowout was on, but evidently, the Shoshoni offense didn’t get the message.
The Wranglers mounted an impressive drive, primarily on broken plays by Mills and toss sweeps to Kisling behind outside blocking from Oakley Hicks.
Shoshoni moved inside the Red Zone, but Gardner broke through and pounded Mills on a hard sack for a 13-yard loss.
The next play Mills stayed in the pocket and was drilled again but lofted an arching 31-yard pass to Kisling on a fly pattern down the east sidelines for the score. The Wranglers trailed 16-8 at the end of the opening period.
Frederick is hard to read for most defenders, and his run-pass option was exceedingly difficult for the Shoshoni defense. He tallied a nine and a five-yard touchdown in the second period to build a 32-8 Cougar lead.
Wind River’s Joaquin Stevens and Wambli Romero had a great game on counters, receptions, and pass defense. Stevens intercepted Mills twice, ending a pair of deep Shoshoni drives. Romero was lightning in a bottle and someone the Wranglers weren’t prepared to defend.
Shoshoni had another good drive as they did all evening to finish the half. Aided by an inadvertent whistle that negated a Kyzaia Jones fumble recovery the Wranglers marched behind runs by Kisling and a couple by Wiley Philleo despite getting pummeled.
As Kisling tried to turn the left corner he cut back to avoid the Cougar defense and all 6-5 265 pounds of Shearer hit him at full speed, knocking the sophomore running back to the ground four yards up the field. To his credit, Kisling hopped up and took another snap.
He’d been leveled early by Ruby on a similar missile strike-style tackle.
The Wrangler’s coaching staff pulled out a couple of trick plays with Morgan Neil hitting Quinton Clark for a big gain and almost scoring again when Clark couldn’t handle Neil’s pass at the end of the half.
A pair of Frederick runs and a 57-yard bomb to Ruby from Frederick lifted the Cougars to a 54-16 lead late in the game, but the Wranglers rallied one final time to cut the margin to 22 points on a pass from Mills to Neil from the 16.
Shoshoni 8 8 0 6 – 22
Wind River 16 16 14 8 – 54
WR – Cooper Frederick 9-run (Joaquin Stevens run) 11:29
WR – Chris Burk 2-run (Frederick run) 7:15
SHO – Carson Kisling 31-pass from Braxton Mills (Wiley Philleo from Mills) 2:26
WR – Frederick 9-run (Burk run) 11:58
WR – Frederick 5-run (Aidan Ruby run) 5:39
SHO – Kisling 6-run (Oakley Hicks from Mills) 3:17
WR – Frederick 3-run (Frederick run) 5:46
WR – Ruby 57-pass from Frederick (run failed) 3:04
WR – Frederick 10-run (Rowdy Shearer from Frederick) 9:23
SHO – Morgan Neil 16-pass from Mills (pass failed):20
Wind River Statistics:
Total Offense: 513 yards
Rushing Offense: 341 yards
Passing Offense: 172 yards
Individual Rushing: Cooper Frederick 24-211, Joaquin Stevens 6-49, Wambli Romero 4-47, Chris Burk 4-7
Individual Passing: Cooper Frederick 9-10 172 yards
Individual Receiving: Aidan Ruby 4-79, Joaquin Stevens 4-63, Rowdy Shearer 2-33