SHERIDAN—The North put together another dominating performance on the football field on Saturday, taking a 41-13 victory over the South in this year’s Shrine Bowl in Casper.
Forced turnovers were the key to the game for the North, cashing in on their first one of the game, an interception by Kelly Walsh’s Kirk Durtsche in the first quarter. Durtsche’s interception led to a 24-yard pass from Natrona’s Sam Turner to Austin Patterson of Riverton.
The South answered with a score just three minutes later, but another touchdown late in the first quarter put the North back on top.
The North scored two more touchdowns in the second quarter before a South touchdown cut the North’s lead to 29-13 at halftime.
North assistant coach Mike McGuire, who led the Big Horn Rams to a 2A state championship this past fall, was the head coach of the North last year.
“It was different because this year I was primarily working on offense only,” McGuire said. “The head coach kind of oversees everything during the game, but my role was a little more specific as an assistant.”
The four first-half scores for the North came on two running plays and two passing plays, which McGuire said was part of the game plan to keep the defense guessing.
“We stayed balanced,” McGuire said of his team’s offense. “Our protection was good, and every eligible player on the roster got at least one touch in the game.”
It was the defense, though, that took the pressure off of McGuire’s offense.
To go along with Durtsche’s first-quarter interception, another South turnover led to a score for the North after Natrona’s Brad Gillis forced a fumble on a sack of the South’s Austyn Matthews, which was recovered and returned for a 77-yard touchdown by the North’s Jack Mazurie.
“Our defense did a great job,” McGuire said. “They stopped the run game, which forced the South to be one dimensional. Those two turnovers were huge, but we stopped them in the red zone. They only scored once out of the four times they reached the red zone. I thought that was the difference maker.”
Mazurie’s scoop-and-score put the South away for good. The South failed to score in the second half, and a 32-yard run for a touchdown by the North’s Sterling Baker was the icing on the cake for what was a dominating performance for the North.
“These kids are such highly-motivated kids,” McGuire added. “They didn’t really know each other before this game, and we only had a couple of days to practice. They came in and worked hard and got a win.”
As time expired on the field at Natrona County High School, McGuire and the North walked off the field with their second straight Shrine Bowl victory, 41-13.