Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Alex Kuhn
Sports Editor 

Warriors win war of attrition vs. No. 4 Panthers

Worland uses late score to take road victory

 

September 2, 2017

POWELL - A win is a win and not every win is going be perfect. Sometimes wins come tough and in aesthetically unpleasing forms which is exactly what the Worland High School Warriors experienced in Powell on Friday night.

The Warriors came out on top 6-3 against the WyoPreps No. 4-ranked Panthers and while it might not have been the best looking win, it still counts in the W column and that's all that matters.

"I'm so proud of them. The big boys up front don't always get the credit but they kept it going and kept grinding. We told them this offense is designed to grind and wear your opponents down and the guys kept the belief that hard work would make it happen. Our defense came up big all game and it all came together for a big win for us," WHS football coach Ryan Utterback.

On the Warriors first possession of the game they moved the ball well but a few miscues ended a promising drive. From that point until their game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter, the Warriors struggled to move the ball in the right direction.

During their drought the Panthers were able to dictate terms, often pushing the Warriors back and forcing three-and-outs.

"We had a few mental lapses and they hurt us, but the big thing we've been preaching at the boys is if you make a mistake you have to push through. How are you going to react? Are you going to fold and let it roll over you or will you get up and dust yourself off and get after it? And they really did the latter tonight. It wasn't perfect and we had mistakes, but they kept the legs churning and made the victory happen," said Utterback.

The Warriors keep-grinding mentality was on full display on what would turn out to be the game-winning drive.

After the Worland defense pushed Powell back and the ensuing punt was shanked, the Warrior offense went to work on the Panther 44 yard line. The offensive line took it to the Panther front line opening up running lanes for quarterback Andrew Edholm, who wouldn't go down easy. With the offense knocking on the door, Carson Lyman found the room and powered his way into the end zone giving Worland a 6-3 lead, after the missed point after try.

"It was a great collaborative effort. The lineman kept their feet going and Andrew, like I've said before, he just refuses to go down. That collaborative effort made it happen, Morgan Tigner, Alex Beck, JR Hofmann kept their feet going toward the end zone then Carson Lyman coming up big finding a gap and punching it in," said Utterback.

During Worland's offensive struggles the defense came through and held strong, forcing the Panthers to commit five turnovers on the night, four fumbles and one interception. Then when the offense overcame their struggles to put the team up 6-3, the Warrior defense put a cap on the victory. Junior defensive back Andy Deniz picked off the Panthers QB, on Powell's first play after the Worland score, to wrap up Friday night's victory.

"We have some experienced linebackers with good size and they're really physical. We have some younger guys out on the perimeter with good athleticism. Devin Mercado had a big knockdown in the game. He was overmatched in size when Powell threw to their 6'4" receiver he went up and swatted the ball away. Each guy played a role and it's going to be fun to see how they progress, and I think they have more in the tank too," said Utterback

The win gives Worland strong starting position for the playoff race in the 3A West conference. Utterback and his coaching staff told the team to enjoy the win but come practice time it's back to work.

"We told them tonight to enjoy the win but like coach (Aaron) Abel said this isn't our ceiling we still have work to do. We went on to talk about how we got more to do and we're going to continue to get better. There's a lot more we can do and more we can tighten up, but a very great starting point for our season," said Utterback.

The Warriors next game will be their home opener of the 2017 season against Buffalo High School on Sep. 8 at Worland High School.

 
 

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