Wrangler football finishes season on late charge

Robert Galbreath photos

PINEDALE – The Thermopolis Bobcats scored their sixth touchdown as the fourth quarter opened. Pinedale trailed by 42 points.

Senior James Kervitsky returned the Bobcats’ kickoff to Pinedale’s 39-yard line. He and senior quarterback Konner Ziegler steadily moved the ball down the field, striking deep into Bobcat territory.

Ziegler swept up the right, advancing 36 yards to the Bobcats’ 14-yard line. Kervitsky charged up the middle, reaching the 3-yard line.

Ziegler tossed the ball to Kervitsky. Putting his head down, Kervitsky bulldozed through a line of Bobcat defenders and into the end zone.

The Wranglers scored two more touchdowns before the clock ran out in the final game of the season against Thermopolis on Friday, Oct. 22.

The Bobcats won, 42-20, but the fourth quarter demonstrated the Wranglers’ resolve to keep fighting until the end despite the bumps and bruises.

Pinedale battled through another challenging season with grit, endurance, resiliency and, most importantly, class. Regardless of the opposing team’s roster or the size of their players, and taking hit after hit after hit, the Wranglers always stood back up with dignity, treating officials and rivals with respect – traits difficult to find in many teams.

“Obviously it was a tough season,” said head coach Clay Cundall. “But we appreciate our seniors’ positive leadership throughout the season. It’s not easy to remain positive in tough times, especially in your final football season. They did a great job bringing younger players along, and we’ll be better in the future because of it.”

Thermopolis hit the gridiron swinging, scoring back-to-back touchdowns in the first quarter.

Pinedale drove into Bobcat territory on the subsequent drive. Kervitsky returned the kickoff to the Wranglers’ 35-yard line. Junior Ethan Jensen swept up the right, just shy of a first down.

Ziegler scrambled and completed the first down. Ethan Jensen rushed 25 yards, breaking into Bobcat territory for a first down. He gained another 12 yards and a second first down.

Thermopolis regained possession as the second quarter opened. Tackles led by senior Tyler Kothe, sophomore Dustin Larsen and junior Holden Saxton slowed the Bobcats’ drive.

Thermopolis’ runner fumbled on a tackle by sophomore Austin Green. Sophomore Cordelle Lane recovered the ball for the Wranglers.

The Wranglers struggled to take advantage of the position and lost possession on turnover on downs.

Thermopolis scored a third touchdown and an extra point after retaking possession.

Ziegler returned the ball to the Wranglers’ 25-yard line. The quarterback gained enough yards for a first down on the second play.

Ethan Jensen and Kervitsky relentlessly moved the ball over midfield, Kervitsky reaching the Bobcats’ 38-yard line for a first down. Ziegler completed a pass to Larsen for another first down.

Thermopolis took possession following a turnover on downs and scored its fourth touchdown before halftime.

Despite tackles by sophomore Bodie Jensen, senior Tim Hosler and junior Luke Gray, Thermopolis reached the end zone again on its first drive in the third quarter.

The fourth quarter opened with the Bobcats in possession. The Pinedale defense got in a few punches, including a tackle for no gain by senior Bryton Nelson, before the Bobcats scored again.

Pinedale answered with a touchdown on its ensuing drive, with Kervitsky making the final charge into the end zone. Kervitsky caught a handoff from Ziegler and shouldered into the end zone for two extra points.

Gray recovered an onside kick, setting the Wranglers up at their 47-yard line.

Ziegler rushed 40 yards down the field, entering the Bobcats’ red zone for a first down. Bodie Jensen found an opening, swept up the left to score Pinedale’s second touchdown.

The Wrangler defense hounded the Bobcats on Thermopolis’ next drive. Gray, Larsen and Lane each pulled off a tackle. Nelson brought down a Bobcat for a loss of yards.

Thermopolis fumbled on its next play. Green recovered the ball and raced 55 yards into the end zone for Pinedale’s third touchdown.

Tackles by Ziegler, Nelson and Kervitsky prevented Thermopolis from making significant gains as the final minutes ticked down.

Robert Galbreath photos