It was déjà vu all over again in Shoshoni Saturday afternoon. A year ago a short-handed Wind River team came to Shoshoni and fell to the Wranglers, who then went on to the state championships in Laramie to defeat Rocky Mountain.
This year, the Cougars were missing a pair of key players from their backfield, a state tournament berth was at stake, and Shoshoni came to play, beating the Cougars 40-6 to earn a return to Jonah Field, only this time against the Pine Bluffs Hornets.
Pine Bluffs advanced to the finals with a controversial 35-33 win over those same Rocky Mountain Grizzlies in Laramie County Friday afternoon.
If it wasn’t for bad luck, the Cougars wouldn’t have had any luck at all in the early going.
Shoshoni ran just five offensive plays in the first 10 minutes of the game but led 16-0 in spite of their offensive unit’s brief appearance.
Wind River took the opening kick and promptly fumbled the ball after a pair of first downs picked up on the ground with the Cougar line blocking well for Cooper Frederick. Frederick was rocked and fumbled the ball at their 38-yard line.
The Wranglers set the tone immediately with senior bruiser-back Pehton Truempler lowering his head and dropping Wind River sophomore Brayden Tatro with a flick of his forearm.
Truempler scored on a four-yard run three plays later to cap a short five-play scoring drive by the Wranglers. Truempler’s two-point conversion run lifted the early score to 8-0 with 8:03 on the first-period clock. The Wranglers converted all five two-point conversions in the game.
On the ensuing series, the Cougars were flagged for an illegal chop block, something they were penalized three times for during the game. The penalty moved the ball back to the 25 and a hammering tackle from Truempler on Wind River quarterback Carter Fowler knocked the ball loose. An aware play by linebacker Cannon Campbell paid off with a 21-yards scoop and score fumble return. Truempler converted the point after play and the Wranglers led 16-0 just five minutes into the game and with their offensive unit sitting on the sidelines for most of those points.
The half ended with the same 16-0 score.
Wind River mounted a couple of nice drives but they proved fruitless with the Cougars stalling out and turning the ball over on downs.
Frederick carried the ball nearly every play, but on key third-down conversion attempts the Wranglers rose to the challenge. On the first stalled Wind River series, Jaxon Stanley broke through and tackled Frederick for a loss, and on the second Cougar possession, Tucker Maddock did the same thing.
Frederick rolled an ankle in a pile-up midway through the second period, but the Cougars adjusted by moving Calder Johnson to the tailback possession and nearly scored after Johnson broke a 23-yard run to the seven-yard line.
Frederick returned to the game, but the Cougars stalled at the Shoshoni one-yard line, losing a golden opportunity to score with 5:35 remaining in the half.
The Wranglers threw their first pass of the game a few plays later with Alex Mills connecting with Stanley from his tight end position for a 30-yard gain.
Wind River’s defense rallied, with Tucker Jensen sacking Mills on a third-and-nine play to end the scoring threat and send the game to the half.
Shoshoni took control for good on their first drive of the second half. After taking the kickoff Truempler rolled off gains of 17 and 15-yards respectively before Campbell broke off the left side, bowled over a pair of Cougar tacklers, and raced 29-yards into the end zone. Mills rolled right on the keeper for the conversion and a 24-0 Wrangler lead.
The Cougars failed on a fourth down conversion attempt on the ensuing drive and the Wranglers were right back into the end zone.
Truempler picked up key gains, and a pass interference call on an attempted throw from Mills to Stanley gave Shoshoni excellent field position. Truempler scored from the one-yard line with 2:41 left in the third and Campbell added the two-point conversion for a 32-0 Shoshoni lead.
On the second play of the fourth quarter, Dominic Jarvis broke right on a counter and rolled down the west sidelines for a 41-yard score. Campbell’s conversion lift the Wranglers to a 40-0 lead with 11:13 left in the game.
In a rivalry you always expect turnovers to come at key times and they did when Frederick lost the ball at the Shoshoni 11-yard line. Quinten Clark covered the fumble, but the Wranglers gave it right back on a fumbled pitch on an option by Mills and Truempler with the illusive pigskin recovered by Calder Johnson at the 14.
Three plays later, Frederick scored Wind River’s lone touchdown on a one-yard plunge.
The Wranglers are in familiar territory in the darkened practices next week after Daylight savings takes away the afternoon.
Shoshoni plays at 1 p.m. next Saturday at War Memorial Stadium against the Pine Bluffs Hornets. Pine Bluffs handed the Wranglers their only loss of the season in an opening day 34-26 decision at Bailey Field.
The Cougars graduate nine seniors in Carter Fowler, Jaycee Herbert, Remington Herbert, KC Gibson, Kaden Jones, Calder Johnson, Casey Befus, Tucker Jensen, and Trapper Hallock.
SHOSHONI 16 0 16 8 – 40
WIND RIVER 0 0 0 6 – 6
SHO – Pehton Truempler 4-run (Truempler run) 8:03
SHO – Cannon Campbell 21-fumble return (Truempler run) 7:00
SHO – Truempler 29-run (Alex Mills run) 10:38
SHO – Truempler 1-run (Campbell run) 2:47
SHO – Dominic Jarvis 41-run (Campbell run) 11:18
WR – Cooper Frederick 1-run (pass failed) 2:56