LANDER – Following tradition, the Wrangler football team hit the gridiron for the season debut in the annual week zero scrimmage against non-conference foe Lander. The Tiger offense and defense put up one obstacle after another for Pinedale and dominated the field.
Official scores were not kept, although Lander ran the ball into the end zone in a sequence of touchdowns in the first three quarters.
The Wranglers showed grit in taking on a significantly larger team and determination to stay in the game and tough out all four quarters.
Overall, the experience served as an opportunity for players and coaches to identify areas for improvement before conference play begins, said head coach Clay Cundall.
“We learned we need to improve our tackling across the board and play with more physicality,” he added. “We need to get better at executing the little things.”
By the second half, the Wranglers found their footing and slowed the Tiger offensive. Juniors Luke Gray and Ethan Jensen performed a set of runs eating up significant yardage.
“Luke and Ethan were the biggest standouts varsity-wise against Lander,” said Cundall. “They played pretty physically, got in good tackles, executed blocks and were very assignment sound.”
Near the end of the fourth quarter, coaches pulled out varsity and allowed the junior varsity squad to get their feet wet with freshman Dane Rowe serving as quarterback.
As the final seconds counted down, Rowe executed a handoff to fellow freshman Joey Bain. Bain took advantage of an opening to his right and ran the ball straight into the end zone for Pinedale’s first touchdown.
The slate is wiped clean as the Wranglers prepare for their first regular game Friday against 2A East adversary Glenrock in front of the home crowd. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Sunny Korfanta Field at Gene Andrews Stadium.