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SHERIDAN — After a big win Monday, the Big Horn Rams turn right around and head south to Wheatland for what’s likely their toughest remaining game of the regular season.
The Rams (4-1) close the year with home games against Moorcroft next week and then Tongue River, but first they’ll play 5-0 Wheatland as they look to cement themselves into a top spot entering the playoffs.
“I think it probably gave both teams a couple more days of preparation, especially defensively, our kids and their kids felt like they knew their opponent really well,” McGuire said of the Glenrock win. “On our part we didn’t execute well early in the game.”
The Rams and Herders stalemated until a late first-half touchdown pass from Connor McCafferty put them ahead 7-0. Big Horn scored 20 in the third.
This week, the Rams will hope their sore muscles have healed on just three days rest as they face a different sort of test in Wheatland. The mobile quarterback Critter Ruwart, who the Rams tamed last year, presents a challenge adverse to the hard-running style of Glenrock.
“He (Devon Parkinson) had 170 yards rushing but that was on 39 carries, so I was really proud of our guys defensively,” McGuire said of stopping Glenrock. Parkinson has surpassed 300 yards rushing more than once this season.
“They did a great job,” McGuire said.
For the offense, things came together in the second half as McCafferty ran in two to cap drives, and found Colter Carzoli late to seal the win.
“We made a few little adjustments at halftime, got all on the same page and put two quick touchdowns up,” McGuire said.
“It’s a team game, if one guy isn’t doing his job it can shut the whole thing down.”
Going into this week McGuire said they took a different approach at practice to get healed up, stressing mental reps over physical ones.
“A lot of what we talked about tonight (Tuesday) is relying on good habits we’ve developed,” he said. “If we focus on our mental stuff our physical stuff will take over once we start playing.”
Wheatland and Big Horn are known for their offensive firepower — the Rams 418.5 yards per game leads 2A, while Wheatland’s 366 is third — but McGuire said he thinks the game may be more about defense than expected.
Wheatland’s rush defense has allowed just 71.8 yards per game, tops in 2A, but that has come along with games against Moorcroft (0-5) last week and Tongue River (1-4) earlier this season. Wheatland won 42-0 Saturday in Moorcroft.
Monday in Glenrock, Carzoli finished with four assisted and four more solo tackles at linebacker, recovering two fumbles.
“I think both teams defenses are really improving,” McGuire said. “I think both teams defenses will be a tough matchup for the offenses. Practice-wise we’ll be able to simulate each other well because we are so similar offensively. It should be a good game.”
Big Horn and Wheatland have a 6 p.m. Friday kickoff.
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