Wrangler defense and offense continue to improve

Sandy Wanfalt photo Junior Branson Simmons, left, stops a Bobcat runner in his tracks during the away game against Thermopolis on Sept. 29. Also pictured is junior Cash McCann, right.

THERMOPOLIS – The Pinedale High School Wrangler football team squared off against conference opponent Thermopolis at an away game on Friday, Sept. 29.

Despite a determined fight by both the Wrangler offense and defense, Pinedale ultimately came up short and fell 20-0.

The score once again did not reflect growth made by Pinedale athletes. A tenacious defense shut out Thermopolis in the first and third quarters and held the Bobcats to a single touchdown in the fourth quarter.

The Wrangler offense continued to make gains on the gridiron, posting solid runs and completing passes.

“It was a tough loss against the Bobcats,” said Head Coach David Thrash. “The Wrangler defense came out to play ball and shut down (the Bobcats’) drives during the first half by playing sound ball. The Pinedale offense made plays with great opening runs by (senior) Dustin Larsen. However, mistakes caught up with us again that the Bobcats were able to capitalize on.”

The Pinedale defense flexed its muscles on the Bobcats’ opening drive in the first quarter and forced Thermopolis to punt with tackles led by senior Jake Hammer and sophomore Cale Dauwen.

Pinedale advanced on its first drive in the opening quarter. Senior quarterback Bodie Jensen charged up the middle for a first down.

Thermopolis took possession but found itself going nowhere against an ironclad Wrangler defense. Hammer pulled off a tackle at the line of scrimmage. Dauwen, Larsen and sophomore Boeh Gamble took down the Bobcats’ runner.

The Wrangler offense made gains on its subsequent drive. Taking the handoff from sophomore quarterback Ian Rigo, Larsen raced up the right side of the field for a first down. Rigo completed a set of passes to both Hammer and sophomore Landon Fornstrom. A third pass to sophomore Kolbyn Jaquez resulted in a 9-yard gain.

The first quarter ended in a 0-0 stalemate.

Pinedale’s defensive line hounded Thermopolis as the second quarter commenced with tackles by junior Cash McCann, sophomore Quincy Mika and senior Doug Dexter. Junior Branson Simmons sacked the Bobcats’ quarterback in the backfield. Pressure by Dexter, Mika and senior Austin Green led to an incomplete pass by Thermopolis and a turnover on downs.

Thermopolis managed to score its first touchdown, although the Wrangler defense shut down its attempt to convert 2 points after touchdown.

The Pinedale D-line halted Thermopolis’s next attempt to advance. Gamble and Hammer both took down Bobcat running backs. Dauwen and Gamble made a sack in the backfield. Pressure from Mika meant another incomplete pass.

Thermopolis eventually reached the end zone on the Bobcats’ final drive in the second quarter to post a 13-0 lead at halftime.

Pinedale opened the second half in possession. Dauwen took the handoff, broke tackle twice and chewed up enough yards for a first down.

A persistent Pinedale defense forced Thermopolis to punt on the Bobcats’ first drive of the third quarter, with Larsen leading a sack.

Pinedale’s defensive line halted Thermopolis’s ensuing drive, including tackles by Hammer, McCann and Dexter. Hammer and Simmons took down a Bobcat in the backfield.

As the fourth quarter began, pressure from Jaquez led to an incomplete pass and Thermopolis lost possession.

On Pinedale’s following possession, Rigo completed a pass to sophomore Wylee Willson for a first down.

Pinedale hosts conference rival Kemmerer on Friday, Oct. 6, with kickoff at 6 p.m.

“We will work on cleaning up plays and playing true Wrangler football for four quarters,” said Coach Thrash. “Everyone is excited to have a night featuring the Junior Wrangler and middle school teams. Come out and support these young men as they work to round the corner and get a home win.”