BIG HORN — Coming off a resounding 44-14 victory last week, the Big Horn Rams look to keep the momentum going in their first conference game against Southeast.
Big Horn overpowered Rocky Mountain last week, thanks in large part to more than 600 yards of total offense and five interceptions. This week, the Rams face Southeast, a run-heavy team that racked up big points of its own last week.
Big Horn may be a man down Friday. Head coach Michael McGuire said standout Kade Eisele is questionable after injuring his ankle near the end of the first half last week.
“I would say it’s 50-50 right now,” McGuire said of Eisele’s likelihood to play.
It will certainly be a loss on both sides of the ball if Eisele doesn’t compete, but Will Pelissier capably filled in at running back last week. He ended the night with 20 carries, 217 yards and two touchdowns. Pelissier was also a threat out of the backfield with three catches for 48 yards.
“Once he stepped in there for Kade for a while, he felt really comfortable,” McGuire said of Pelissier. “Our line did a great job of opening holes for him, and he ran hard and hit the seams that he needed to hit.”
Line play will be paramount for Big Horn again this week. McGuire said if the Rams allow Southeast to win at the line of scrimmage, the Big Horn team will be in for a long day.
In Southeast’s 48-32 win over Bayard, Nebraska, last week, the Cyclones ran the ball 67 times for 581 yards. Passing, though, Southeast threw the ball only five times, completing two throws for 33 yards.
McGuire said the Cyclones run an option attack, usually giving quarterback Brady Fullmer the ability to keep it himself or hand it off to one of the team’s talented backs.
Southeast running back Chase Lovercheck was the main man last week with 19 carries for 288 yards and four touchdowns. The Cyclones’ 48 points were the most in 1A last week, with Big Horn second at 44. The teams were nearly identical in total offense. The Rams had 616 yards compared to 614 for Southwest.
Both teams are strong on offense, but Big Horn should have an edge defensively. The Rams were stout last week, giving up 171 total yards and only 29 yards rushing.
Southeast, meanwhile, gave up more than 400 yards of offense, allowing 247 yards through the air. That should help Big Horn quarterback Quinn McCafferty and his receivers, especially Kade VanDyken, who was the Press’ Athlete of the Week this past week. Van Dyken had 90 receiving yards and a touchdown to go along with four interceptions on defense against Rocky Mountain.
The variety of rushing options for Southeast means it will be vital for the Rams’ defensive linemen to stay in their assignments and shut down running lanes.
Big Horn had three turnovers and eight penalties last week, a sloppy performance in an otherwise commanding win. They were called for several offensive holding penalties in the second quarter alone, stalling promising drives.
McGuire said he knows the offensive line can improve, and it will need to this week. Southeast has some talented defenders, including Sterling Warner, who had a monster game last week with 13 tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks.
Despite a very different opponent, though, McGuire said the team’s focus this week was on itself.
“There’s always some tweaks we put in the game plan on both sides of the football,” McGuire said. “But for the most part right now, especially this early in the year, we just have to focus on executing what we do better.”
The game starts at 6 p.m. at Southeast’s Teeters Field in Yoder.