Any win is always a good feeling, and can be the start of trending in the right direction.
But for the Laramie High football team, last week’s 24-17 home win against Casper Kelly Walsh was more meaningful.
It was the first season-opening win — home or away — for Laramie in 10 years. The last time LHS was 1-0 after what is called “O Week” was a 35-14 win against Rock Springs at home when current defensive coordinator Bob Knapton was the head coach of the Plainsmen. It’s called “O Week” because only the 10-team Class 4A teams were in action with the rest of the classes starting the season this week.
“You have to learn to celebrate,” third-year LHS coach Clint Reed said. “As a coach you can pick apart the film and figure out how to improve, get better and progress one week at a time. But at the same time, we took a moment to celebrate a little bit as a team. This is something we haven’t done in a decade — win our opener.”
The Plainsmen now hit the road for a 6 p.m. game today at Rock Springs.
The run-pass option for LHS was efficient with junior quarterback Garrett Dodd going 11 of 23 for 192 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He also ran 11 times for 80 yards that included an 18-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter in what proved to be the game winner.
“The passing game was a little better coming out of the gun, and we knew that could be with the quarterbacks we had in the offseason,” Reed said. “We just need to clean some things up front — Colter Nunn is a good running back and Isaac Sell is right there for a 1-2 punch. Another positive either offensively or defensively, Isaac’s head is always in the game and he understands what we are asking him all the time.”
Nunn, a junior, added 20 yards on 14 carries and Sell, a junior, had 17 yards on three carries, and threw a pass for a for a 19-yard touchdown.
Also having a big game against the Trojans was senior receiver Janson Adair, who caught six passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns of 19 and 7 yards, respectfully.
“One of the things that stood out of for me was Janson Adair,” Reed said. “It was so nice after a couple of seasons of injuries for him to play a complete game and see what kind of an athlete he is.
“There’s a lot of guys on the team like that, and we as coaches have to give them those opportunities to show what they’re skills are — how can we get these guys involved so they can step up and contribute to the team? Especially after a win, everybody wants to be a part of it and be involved.”
Senior H-back Conner Killpack added four catches for 32 yards and three rushes for seven yards.
On the other side of the ball, Nunn led the Plainsmen with 20 defensive points with 11 tackles (seven assisted, four solo) and a fumble recovery from his middle linebacker position. Adair, at safety, had 17 points with 10 tackles (three assisted, seven solo). Killpack, at cornerback, had 13 points with three solo tackles and an interception. Sell, at the other safety spot, had 12 points with two assisted tackles and five solo stops. Junior defensive tackle Julian Cortez notched 10 points with two assisted tackles, one solo tackle and two sacks.
Other than the typical bumps and bruises, Reed said the Plainsmen do not have any significant injuries to report.
About the Tigers
Rock Springs is under the direction of first-year head coach Mark Lenhardt, who coached at Torrington from 2011-18.
He led the Trailblazers to the 3A state title game the past two seasons going 9-2 and 10-1, respectively. Torrington was runner-up to Cody in 2017 and Star Valley last season.
“Their lines may not be as big as they have been in the past, but they will still be a physical team under Mark Lenhardt, who is a well-respected coach,” Reed said. “I think what we will see from Rock Springs is something we haven’t seen in a long time. We are used to the double-wing, power run. Now we may see more of a 50/50 run and pass. It also might be just a half-dozen plays, but we will see a dozen or more formations. So we will have to make sure our adjustments and assignments are set up and ready to go.”
The Tigers, ranked fifth in the preseason WyoPreps.com Coach’s and Media poll, lost 23-7 at No. 3 Sheridan last week. Rock Springs quarterback Seth Hymas was 22 of 35 for 194 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Rock Springs dropped out of the top five this week with Laramie taking the fifth spot after its win against the Trojans.
The Plainsmen beat the Tigers 21-14 at home last season. Rock Springs won 51-29 the last time Laramie traveled there in 2017.
“We won four at home last year, won our first one at home this year and now we have to learn how to win on the road,” Reed said. “If we want to be competitive in 4A and going into the playoffs we have to learn to win on the road.”