A grueling pre-season schedule came to an end in Lincoln County for the Riverton Wolverines in a 56-6 loss to the Star Valley Braves. The Wolverines drop to 0-4 on the season when the Zero Week loss to Powell is included.
Riverton played the #1, #2, and #3 ranked teams in Class 3-A in their meetings with Star Valley, Cody, and Powell and dropped a close game to a solid Evanston team on the road.
“There is no doubt there are three very high caliber teams in the west, and Evanston is pretty good as well. We’ve played three of the four best teams in the state,” Riverton head coach Mark Lenhardt said.
The path should be a little easier for Riverton as they host Rawlins next Friday.
The Outlaws are 2-2 on the year with wins over Green River and Class 2-A Burns, and losses to Class 2-A Pinedale and Moffat County, Colorado.
“I told the kids as soon as we walked off the field, I hope your confidence isn’t shot, but we’re going to have a chance to win some games,” Lenhardt said.
Riverton played well offensively early in the game against the top-ranked Braves.
“They were good. We moved the ball on them the first half pretty well,” Lenhardt said. “We had a good drive on them on our second possession. We continued to move the ball, we had just one three-and-out in the first half.”
Offensive improvement is a positive step, but there are two sides in football and the Wolverines weren’t ready for the physical play of the Braves defensively.
“It was the same old issues on defense. We are getting blocked one” one-on-one and at times we don’t want to tackle in the secondary,” Lenhardt said. “When our safety came up to stop the run, they threw over his head. If we’re getting blocked one-on-one you have to make the tackle. But it was a pretty high-quality opponent we played. The score didn’t indicate how close it was. It wasn’t a lopsided blowout.”
Keeping the team focused as they enter conference play is key to a successful season. The East offers more competitive teams for the Wolverines to face as the West 3-A has dominated over the last few seasons.
“You just hope our kids haven’t lost all their confidence. We have a lot of young men who have been part of two wins, we just hope their confidence isn’t shot,” Lenhardt said. “We tell them we’re making progress and doing good things. We hope we can get off to a fast start, and get some momentum.”
Hopefully, that momentum begins this Friday against Rawlins.