SHERIDAN — This season the Sheridan Broncs have won in a variety of ways, but after five games, it’s safe to say defense has been the prevailing element in a 5-0 start.
Sheridan stayed unbeaten with what head coach Don Julian called a “workman-like” 19-0 victory Friday night over Rock Springs.
The first chilly fall football game didn’t discourage a good-sized homecoming crowd, and on a night that could have been a trap game for Sheridan, the Broncs defense went about their business.
“Any Friday night you get a shutout is a great night,” Julian said. “These numbers are really exciting defensively, to hold a team to 129 yards of total offense is really impressive on any given night, I don’t care who you’re playing.”
Sheridan used two field goals, 16 second quarter points, holding on for a 19-0 win over Rock Springs in a game where neither team got on the board after halftime.
The high-scoring win over Cheyenne East the week before, homecoming and an approaching game with Gillette could have all combined to set up a let-down Friday, but Sheridan proved their defense was built upset-proof.
Now they get the only other 5-0 team in 4A next week when they travel to Gillette for the Energy Bowl.
Sheridan had 357 total yards, and while they were held out of the end zone in the second half, their defense made any comeback an afterthought.
Rock Springs was surrounded near the line of scrimmage, rarely getting behind Sheridan’s linebackers Friday. Rock Springs’ 129 total yards was a season best for the Broncs defense that forced six punts and snagged two interceptions. Perhaps more notable for the defense than the shutout was the 1.1 yards per carry they allowed Rock Springs.
Nick Gill stole the first ball from Rock Springs quarterback Koltin Legerski, harassed by Bronc pass rushers on a rollout to his right. The Broncs would use the second quarter interception to set up a Gill field goal that made the score 6-0. Gill was 2-3 on field goal attempts, hitting one in the first quarter to open scoring.
Linebacker Ethan Hoopes continued his stellar season prowling Scott Field as he tipped an interception to himself on Rock Springs following drive. Daniel Sessions scored from 16 yards out. Later in the quarter, Gill found the pilon on a reverse for the game’s final score with 25 seconds left in the first half.
Sheridan had two touchdowns called back — a screen pass and long run for Dontae Crow and a crafty run from Colbey Bruney — one each in the third and fourth quarter.
Still, the Broncs lead was never in doubt. Sheridan built their cushion with aggressive play calling. For the second week in a row, the Broncs scored twice in the final five minutes of the half. They reeled off 28 last week in the second quarter of the East win.
“We want to attack,” Julian said. “We feel like we need to attack, we always elect to receive, we don’t differ, we want possessions and if we can create another possession we’re going to go after it.
“Every possession is an opportunity to get some points on the board and we’ve had some good success scoring late in the first half by getting after it and using our timeouts well. It was good again tonight.”
As they have in every game this season, Sheridan surpassed 100 yards on the ground, hitting 160. Kameron Eckard completed another solid outing. He was 19 of 30 and had one interception.
Second half drive stalls and punts as well as a red zone fumble in the fourth quarter held the Broncs at 19 points.
Julian admitted that it was frustrating, especially with the called back scores, not finishing drives, but he was happy that his team moved the ball.
“We have high expectations, and that’s a good thing,” he said. “You get a 19-0 win and you need to be happy about that. It’s OK to have some frustration — maybe we still need to fine-tune some things and continue to get better.”
After two wins on lengthy road trips, one blowout and a couple of defensive gems, it seems the Broncs are as ready as ever to play the Camels. Gillette beat Cheyenne South 29-6 Friday at home.
“It’ll be an incredibly fun week preparing and getting the kids ready,” Julian said. “It will be one versus two at their house. I’m sure it will be an incredible battle and a game that everybody in Sheridan needs to travel to.”
SHS: Nick Gill field goal, 3-0 Sheridan – 8:45
SHS: Gill field goal, 6-0 Sheridan 8:13
SHS: Daniel Sessions 16-yard run, 12-0 Sheridan – 6:08
SHS: Gill 12-yard reverse, run, 19-0 Sheridan – 0:25
Team totals Rock Springs-Sheridan
First downs 18-8
Yards per carry 5.2-1.1
Passing yards 197-100
Total plays 61-45
Total offense 357-129
Return yards 70-25
Rushing: Daniel Sessions 12-72, Colbey Bruney 11-46, Kameron Eckard 1-8, Ethan Hall 2-5, Nick Gill 3-17, Dontae Crow 2-12
Passers: Kameron Eckard (SHS) 19-30-197 yards-1INT – 63 percent -10.4 yards per attempt; Koltin Legerski (RSHS) 10-20-100 yards-2 INT -50 percent
Receivers: Joe Shassetz 6-20, Gill 4-62, Sessions 1-2, Tyler Kaufmann 3-37, Trae Kaufmann 4-61, Jess Edens 1-15.