SHERIDAN — Three weeks into the 4A football season, only two teams remain undefeated. Thunder Basin High School and Sheridan High School are both 3-0 entering this week.
Sheridan will travel to Gillette Friday night to take on Thunder Basin, the second week in a row the Broncs are tasked with taking on a top ranked 4A team in the state.
Thunder Basin has a potent passing attack, Sheridan head coach Jeff Mowry said. Returning for Thunder Basin is the top passer in 4A from a year ago, Mason Hamilton, who threw for 2,592 yards and 31 touchdowns, almost double the number of touchdowns of the second-best passer in 4A last year.
Hamilton, who averaged 235.6 yards a game, and the Thunder Basin offense can light up the scoreboard and do it quickly, Mowry said.
Sheridan came away with 31-7 victory against Natrona last Friday and hope to remain perfect on the season. Sheridan gained the advantage by capitalizing on a Natrona fumble.
Sheridan has yet to turn the ball over this year and took advantage of the other teams’ turnovers to help win. Mowry said Thunder Basin will look to find ways to turnover Sheridan, knowing whoever wins the turnover battle has the best chance of winning the game.
Mowry said turnovers and special teams will help determine the game this Friday. Sheridan has been consistent with special teams but has yet to have a game-changing play, Mowry said. A big play on special teams could give the Broncs the edge in the game.
Whoever wins the game will remain undefeated and will occupy the driver’s seat for the first seed in the playoffs, guaranteeing home field advantage, Mowry said.
The Broncs will need a complete team effort to win the game Friday night. Garrett Coon and Jacob Boint have been consistent players on both sides of the ball, but those two cannot do it alone, Mowry said.
Underclassmen have stepped up to make big plays for the Broncs. It has been a combination of juniors and sophomores with no individuals being responsible for the boost, Mowry said.
Sheridan found a good second string running back in junior Izak Aksamit, who has also contributed on defense. Junior Zach Koltiska and sophomore Brock Steel have provided big plays in the passing game and stepped up defensively.
This combination of support allows Coon, Boint and other starts to rest, keeping players healthy and allowing them energy to make a big play.
With Aksamit providing quality reps in the running back position, Mowry has moved Coon to line up as a receiver, utilizing him on jet sweeps and in the passing game. Opposing teams will key in on Coon, as they should, Mowry said.
Lining up Coon in the receiver position forces defenses to either thin out the defensive front or risk leaving Coon in a favorable match up.
Sheridan looks to continue improving the pad level on defense and mental mistakes. Mowry said pad level can always be improved and needs to be a focus each week.
Sheridan cut down on the mental mistakes and penalties last week, especially in the first half, Mowry said, but there were too many penalties committed in the second half by Sheridan. These mental mistakes will need to be avoided against Thunder Basin. Kickoff for the two top teams is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday in Gillette.