CHEYENNE – Christian Anderton found limited space up the middle late in Cheyenne East’s intrasquad scrimmage, so he bounced the ball out to the right side.
The senior running back carried the ball up the sideline before being met by a sub-varsity defensive back. Anderton could have easily stepped out of bounds, or tried to juke the defender and cut the ball back toward the center of the field.
Instead, Anderton lowered his shoulder and tried to barrel through the defender. The collision sent both players out of bounds and drew oohs from the players lining the sidelines.
“I didn’t feel like I was physical enough last year, so I told our coach I wanted to be more physical this year,” Anderton said. “I was frustrated during that scrimmage, and that guy just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Anderton also has been abusing opposing defenders this season.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder rushed for 119 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries during the Thunderbirds’ 55-0 win at Casper Kelly Walsh. He also caught three passes for 91 yards and another score.
Those efforts earned Anderton Prep Athlete of the Week honors from WyoSports’ Cheyenne staff.
Anderton took over as East’s starting running back when senior Riley Cooper suffered an injury that sidelined him for much of the 2018 season. Anderton – who started the year as a slot receiver – thrived in his new role, gaining 844 yards and scoring nine touchdowns.
He ranked fifth in Class 4A in yards per game, and earned first team all-state honors.
Anderton was happy with how his season went, but he went into the off-season with a chip on his shoulder.
“I still felt like I had more to prove,” Anderton said. “I didn’t play as much the last three or four games as I did earlier. (Cooper) came back, I had one bad game, and, maybe, the coaches started thinking I wasn’t ready for my role.
“I want to prove to them that I am ready for it.”
Anderton played through a knee injury over the final few games last season, East coach Chad Goff said. Anderton thought his knee was just sore from the season, but the pain returned during basketball practice. That’s when Anderton decided to see a doctor, and found out he had torn the posterior cruciate ligament in one of his knees.
“You can tell he did everything he needed to to make sure he was back for Day 1 this season,” Goff said. “He did the rehab right. He didn’t go home and sit on the couch all summer.
“He is really starting to get his groove back. He is running the ball well, catching the ball well, and playing well at safety.”
Anderton has rushed for 221 yards and four touchdowns through East’s first two games. Most of those have come between the tackles.
“I have been trying to go through the middle more instead of bouncing it outside,” he said. “I want to be physical and gain yards going north-to-south instead of east-west.”
Anderton’s experience as a receiver is making him a versatile weapon for the T-Birds, Goff said.
“Sometimes you have running backs whose hands aren’t very good,” the coach said. “(Anderton) has really soft hands, and really gets good yards after the catch.
“We have been mostly using him out of the backfield, but we know we can send him out wide and give teams a spread look, if we have to.”
The varied ways Anderton is being used shows him he has regained the confidence of East’s coaching staff.
“I’m happy to help out in so many different ways, whether it’s running back, receiver or safety,” he said. “It shows me the coaches trust me.”
Others recognized for their efforts include:
n Chance Aumiller, Graedyn Buell and Jackson Hesford, football, East: Aumiller, a senior, caught three passes for 131 yards and a touchdown in the Thunderbirds’ 55-0 win at Casper Kelly Walsh.
Buell, a junior, completed 13 of 17 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns.
Hesford, also a junior, caught four passes for 113 yards and a score.
n Madison Blaney, Ky Buell and Ashley Marshall, volleyball, East: Blaney, a senior, posted 37 kills, 26 digs and 21 blocks to help the Lady Thunderbirds go 5-1 and take third at the Gillette Invitational.
Buell, also a senior, dished out 96 assists to go with 33 digs.
Marshall, a junior, added 81 assists on the weekend.
n Erica Farris, diving, East: The senior won all three meets she competed in during the week, including setting a new pool record at the Green River Invitational.
n Andrew Johnson and Dawson Macleary, football, Cheyenne Central: Johnson, a junior wide receiver, caught nine passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns in the Indians’ 28-14 loss Sheridan.
Macleary, a senior quarterback, completed 29 of 48 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns.