Rumble in Sublette County


Robert Galbreath photos The Big Piney High School Punchers take a moment following their victory against Pinedale to pose with the county trophy. The team is coached by an all-alumni staff consisting of Head Coach Jeromy Moffat and assistant coaches Cody Raza, Jared Holgate and Rodney Feiock. The Wranglers battled back with plenty of solid plays on both offense and defense. Pinedale senior quarterback Bodie Jensen, No. 8, chews up yards for the Wranglers with Puncher senior Preston Bennett in pursuit. The BPHS cheer team put on a great halftime show during the cross-county rivalry football game on Aug. 25. Pictured, from left, are Natalie Davis, Danielle Silvas, Julia Hymas, Puncher Man Ian Jones, Tilly Evans and Maybrie Denison.

Punchers defend cross-county trophy

PINEDALE – High school football kicked off with the Pinedale High School Wranglers squaring off against the Big Piney High School Punchers for a good old-fashioned rivalry game in Big Piney on Friday, Aug. 25.

Following a several-year hiatus, 2023 marked the 108th time in Sublette County history that the two teams clashed on the gridiron.

Both the Wranglers and Punchers exhibited tenacity, with solid plays on defense and offense that bode well for each team as they enter regular conference play.

Defending the home field, the Puncher offense shifted into high gear in a powerful first quarter that resulted in two early touchdowns. Building on that momentum, Big Piney went on to deliver a decisive 34-2 victory and keep the county trophy in Puncher hands for another year.

Because the rivalry game was a non-conference matchup, varsity played for three quarters with junior varsity resetting the scoreboard in the fourth quarter.

Big Piney Head Coach Jeromy Moffat thanked Pinedale for dropping two players on defense to allow the Punchers to run their 9-man offense. The teams fielded 11 players when Pinedale ran offense.

“I thought it was a well-played, physical game on both sides,” said Coach Moffat. “It was fun to coach 11-man defense and I was proud of the kids for not giving up a touchdown. We wanted to make a statement by playing up and competing for the Sublette County trophy. This was a good prep week I feel for both squads. Pinedale is definitely on the rise!”

Pinedale Head Coach David Thrash was pleased by the resolve and strength the Wranglers demonstrated.

“Friday was a good competition and I’m glad we were able to get the Big Piney-Pinedale game back on the schedule,” said Coach Thrash. “The Wranglers continued to show improvement on executing plays and worked hard to put drives together. Offensively, we will continue to clean up blocks and work on maintaining momentum into the red zone to finish those drives.”

First quarter fireworks

Big Piney found itself in possession as the first quarter opened. Junior Caden Clifford drove the ball forward for 16 yards and a first down. Senior quarterback Champ Snively completed a pass to fellow senior Reuben Stoutenburg for another first down.

Stoutenburg took a handoff and swept into the end zone for the Punchers’ first touchdown. Senior Roger Young landed a perfect kick for the extra point, putting Big Piney ahead, 7-0.

On Pinedale’s first drive, Clifford intercepted a pass and raced into the end zone for Puncher touchdown No. 2. A field goal by Young brought the tally to 14-0 in Big Piney’s favor.

The Pinedale offense found its footing on its second drive. Senior Austin Green relentlessly chewed up the yards over the course of several plays, including one for a first down. Senior quarterback Bodie Jensen kept the ball and found an opening for a 14-yard advance and a first down.

The Wrangler defense stopped Big Piney in its tracks on the subsequent drive. Tackles by Green and senior Doug Dexter forced the Punchers to punt.

Big Piney returned the defensive punch, stalling Pinedale out on the Wranglers’ next attempt to move the ball forward with tackles by Stoutenburg and seniors Dylon Woodward and Preston Bennett.

The Punchers regained possession and Snively completed a set of pass plays to senior Karsyn Gurr and Stoutenburg before the first quarter drew to a close.

Second-quarter momentum

Big Piney continued to churn up the yards as the second quarter commenced. Stoutenburg bulldozed up the center of the field to score 6 more points for the Punchers.

A tough Big Piney defense halted Pinedale’s first drive in the second quarter, including a tackle for no gain by Puncher senior Zack Murphy.

Big Piney reached the end zone again on its ensuing drive. Catching the handoff, Stoutenburg cruised into the red zone to score a touchdown. A good kick by Young brought the score to 27-0 in Big Piney’s favor.

Taking possession, a determined Pinedale offense churned up the yards in the following drive. Jensen completed a perfect pass to Wrangler sophomore Quincy Mika for a first down. Jensen then faked a pass and held the ball, sweeping up the field for a first down.

Pinedale lost possession with a turnover on downs at Big Piney’s 7-yard line, but the Punchers struggled to capitalize on the situation. Quick thinking by Wrangler sophomore Cale Dauwen, senior Jake Hammer and junior Garett Scobey on defense resulted in a 2-point safety for Pinedale.

On Big Piney’s final drive of the first half, Pinedale sophomore Sergio Duarte Villa put an end to the Punchers’ advance by intercepting a pass.

The halftime score favored Big Piney, 27-2.

Second-half progress

A solid Puncher defense stopped Pinedale’s first drive, with tackles by Clifford, Murphy, Bennett and sophomore Zef Zuniga.

The Wrangler defense responded on the Punchers’ subsequent drive and forced Big Piney to punt. Dexter swept in for a tackle and sophomore Boeh Gamble broke up Big Piney’s pass. Dauwen, junior Branson Simmons and Gamble took down Big Piney’s runner behind the line of scrimmage.

On Pinedale’s following possession, Jensen maneuvered through an opening for a first down. Jensen then completed two passes to Hammer.

The Punchers scored once again in the third quarter. Snively completed a touchdown pass to senior Jerrett Fear. Young delivered a good kick for the extra point, widening the Punchers’ lead to 34-2.

The Punchers host conference rival Lusk on Thursday, Aug. 31, with kickoff scheduled for 5 p.m. The Wranglers travel to play 2A opponent Rawlins on Friday, Sept. 1, at 7 p.m.