CHEYENNE – Cheyenne East has had several talented quarterbacks during Chad Goff’s time as head coach.
That list includes a triumvirate of three-year starters. However, Trevon Hinker (2009-11) and Tevis Bartlett (2012-14) were never given the privilege current Thunderbirds signal caller Graedyn Buell has.
The senior has the latitude to change East’s play at the line of scrimmage based purely on what he sees the defense presenting. Sometimes Buell changes the direction of a running play, sometimes he changes from a run to a pass or a pass to a run, sometimes he even calls his own number and totes the ball himself.
Buell has rewarded his coaches’ faith time and again. Friday night’s 44-26 victory at third-ranked Rock Springs was just the latest example.
The 6-foot-2, 193-pounder completed 19 of 30 passes for 251 yards and five touchdowns. He also rushed for 162 yards during the No. 1 T-Birds’ win. Those efforts earned Buell Prep Athlete of the Week honors from WyoSports’ Cheyenne staff.
“(Buell) sees the game so well, is very smart against coverages and knows what’s going to come open,” said Goff, who is in his 15th season at East. “His study of film and his attention to the offensive coordinator and the game plan is great.”
Several of Buell’s better runs Friday came from plays he checked into. The changes are made on information Buell quickly processes at the line of scrimmage, starting with seeing whether the defensive linemen are aligned over the guards or the center.
“I start with the defensive line, then I’ll look at the linebackers, and then I look at the safeties and corners,” Buell said. “If the play we have called will work, I’ll stick with it. If what they’re covering opens up something better for us, I’ll go to that.
“A lot of that comes from watching film and learning what to expect.”
Buell was first given the privilege of changing plays during his sophomore year. East started by letting him change the direction of plays. It got off to a rocky start.
“I kept checking it to the wrong side the whole game, but the offensive line covered for me,” Buell said with an embarrassed chuckle. “We watched it in film, and I thought, ‘I can’t believe what I was doing.’
“It took some time to get used to, but it was fun to be given that responsibility.”
Because Buell doesn’t play defense, he is able to talk to East’s coaches between series. That time is invaluable to make sure everyone is on the same page.
“He tells us what he’s seeing, we tell him what we’re seeing, we find common ground and go from there,” Goff said.
Buell entered the final week of the regular season as the leading passer in Class 4A at 273.2 yards per game. He also led the state in all-purpose average (318.5 ypg). East led 4A in total offense (451 ypg) and was second in scoring offense (38.2 points per game).
The quarterback feels good about where his team’s offense is entering the playoffs.
“We feel like if we don’t hurt ourselves with penalties or sacks, there aren’t many teams that can stop us,” Buell said. “The defense is also helping us by getting turnovers. All together, we’re playing good football, and we feel good about our chances in the playoffs.”
Others recognized for their efforts include:
-- Andy Cummins, Andrew Johnson, Jaxon Lobatos, Nathanial Talich, football, Cheyenne Central: Cummings completed 21 of 30 passes for 345 yards and four touchdowns during the Indians’ 48-32 victory at Laramie.
Johnson caught eight of those passes for 123 yards and a touchdown.
Lobatos rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries.
Talich caught three passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns.
-- Izzy DeLay and Kira Brownell, girls swimming, Central: DeLay, a freshman, won the 200-yard medley relay and the 100 breaststroke to help the Lady Indians win the Cheyenne City Championships on Saturday.
Brownell, a junior, won the 50 free and 100 backstroke.
-- Jaden Gipfert and Rylee Ward, volleyball, Burns: Gipfert tallied 45 digs and 33 kills to help the Lady Broncs go 1-2 on the week.
Ward dished out 93 assists to go with 18 ace serves. She also had 20 digs during a five-set loss to Torrington.