By Shawn O’Brate
PAVILLION – One of the biggest, best and longest rivalries in Fremont County history played out Thursday night as the Shoshoni Wranglers (5-1) traveled 30 miles down the road to play the Wind River Cougars (6-0).
The Cougars would catch an early breather with the Wranglers’ top receiver, Trey Fike, making game zero for a key play that would see the winners atop the 1A 9-man West Conference with an undefeated conference record.
But even without Fike, the Wranglers pulled it off and made a play with quarterback Alex Mills finding tight end Jaxon Stanley on a rainbow pass to the breadbasket.
Mills, who would eventually score the game’s first touchdown on a long drive, continued to push the play through the first three quarters even as his receivers dropped balls or he made mistakes.
Wind River’s defense held strong for most of the first half, stopping the run, as it has all season with their No. 1 rushing defense. But every now and then, Pehton Truempler broke through, as he has done all season for the Wranglers.
When not on defense, the Cougars imposed their will on the ground as well. Junior Cooper Frederick, who sits just behind Truempler in total rushing yards and touchdowns, would score on a 32-yard run after breaking through a hole in the line and getting into open space.
Another great addition to the season is Wind River senior Jaycee Herbert, who entered the game ranked third in rushing yards per game (108.2). Herbert, who had a strong game all night, also had the second-longest game of the season out of the backfield earlier this year and ripped off some big ones in that game as well.
The biggest issue for the Cougars was turnover issues that specifically plagued their high powered running game. Three fumbles, two interceptions and plenty of yellow flags kept the Cougars down, especially in the second half, and allowed their rivals to run the clock.
Right from the halftime locker room talk, the Cougars got the ball in great field position and fumbled once they crossed the 50-yard line. That, as well as two of their other turnovers, would lead to a Shoshoni touchdown.
Not only did the Wranglers’ first possession end up in the end zone, it was thanks to an amazing, pinpoint pass from Mills on a pass that many coaches wouldn’t advise as he threw the ball across his body to the left while running right downfield. The Shoshone took the lead 18-14.
Truempler’s towering one-yard TD put the Wranglers up by two scores, 25-14, where it would last until the final corner.
For more information, images and quotes from the game, be sure to check out the full article at Ranger website (Rivertonranger.com), Lander Journal website (https://wrrnetwork.com/journal/) or head down to WyoToday headquarters at 421 E. Main Street, Riverton, WY 82501 for a copy of the newspaper where this article can find.