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

By Robert Gagliardi
WyoSports 

Braves bull over Trailblazers for 3A state title

 

November 13, 2018

COURTESY/ Jacob Byk/ Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Star Valley's Wyatt Moore evades a tackle from Torrington during the 3A matchup of the Wyoming State Football Championships at War Memorial Stadium on Friday in Laramie.

LARAMIE – Star Valley is known as a physical team that runs the football between the tackles and along the edges.

The Braves flexed their muscles in both areas as they gained 272 rushing yards, and scored four of their five touchdowns on the ground during a 35-14 victory over Torrington to claim the Wyoming Class 3A championship Friday afternoon at War Memorial Stadium.

"We've had a bunch of guys in the past that were big, bruiser guys, and this year we had guys step up to be that guy and hit somebody," said senior running back Wyatt Moore, who had nine carries for 64 yards and missed a good part of the season with a broken collarbone.

Moore wasn't the only guy Friday. Junior running back R.J. Cazier recorded game-highs with 27 carries for 127 yards and two touchdowns. Junior quarterback Dean Shaw, another player who missed time this season with a broken collarbone, added 10 carries for 44 yards and a touchdown.

This was Star Valley's (10-1) third state title in the past four seasons, and its seventh state championship and 15th state championship game appearance since 1990.

Although the Braves never trailed, Torrington (10-1) had the momentum heading into halftime.

Star Valley went three-and-out on its first offensive possession of the game, but scored touchdowns on its next two. Torrington answered with a 14-play, 80-yard drive that ate up 6 minutes, 41 seconds, capped by a nine-yard touchdown run by senior running back Bryan Lemmon.

Star Valley nearly made it three straight touchdown drives, thanks in large part to a 33-yard pass from Shaw to 6-foot-5 junior wide receiver Chase Merrell. With eight seconds remaining in the second quarter, Star Valley's last play was an incomplete pass in the end zone as time expired.

Torrington got the ball to start the third quarter, but on its first play, senior quarterback Casey Britton fumbled, and the ball was recovered by Star Valley senior linebacker Will Johnson. The Braves scored six plays later on an eight-yard run by junior running back David Castillo.

"No question (the turnover) was the turning point because I felt like we controlled the first quarter, but (Torrington) got in going in the second quarter and went down and scored," Star Valley coach McKay Young said.

"You're nervous going into the locker room up 14-7 at halftime, they're getting the ball and getting things figured out. To get a turnover and score right away gave us the momentum to carry us the rest of the way through."

Star Valley forced a Torrington punt on the Trailblazers next offensive series, and the Braves iced the game on their next possession with a 13-play, 65-yard drive that ate up 4:55 on the clock. It was capped by a one-yard touchdown run by Cazier.

"I felt like we were going to have to play a near-perfect game to have a chance," Torrington coach Mark Lenhardt said. "We turn the ball over to start the third quarter, and if you give them a short field, it is going to be a problem."

Star Valley scored two touchdowns off three Torrington turnovers. Lemmon scored on a one-yard run during the fourth quarter, and finished the game with 20 carries for 116 yards.

"We actually played a little bit better offensively than I thought we could running the football (199 yards)," Lenhardt said. "They're a pretty stout crew up front. They didn't allow a point in their first two playoff games.

"They did an excellent job of playing keep-away. They wait for you to make a mistake and take advantage of it."

Star Valley had a 27:14 to 20:34 edge in time of possession, and ran 15 more plays than Torrington.

"They're a big team and a powerhouse," Lemmon said. "We played as hard as we could; it just wasn't good enough."

 
 

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