SHERIDAN — Big plays by the Big Horn High School football team allowed the Rams to earn the 49-16 victory over Tongue River High School in the intercounty game Friday.
“I thought the guys came out and played well,” Big Horn’s head coach Kirk McLaughlin said. “I am really proud of the defense and how disciplined they were.”
Big Horn used scored touchdowns on the ground and through the air along with an interception in the first quarter to build a 49-0 halftime lead. McLaughlin said the Rams continue to show how explosive they can be. Senior Will Pelissier said the game plan worked to perfection and was able to run the ball well and the coaches set the team up to succeed.
The Rams were the most effective on plays that went outside of the defense, whether by design or from the players bouncing it to the outside.
“It was something we wanted to work on, work the edge and we wanted to be downhill too by running between the tackles,” McLaughlin said. “We will have to watch the film on that. We definitely have some things to improve on, but I am always happy to get a win.”
The Eagles pressured quarterback Quinn McCafferty early in the game. McLaughlin attributed the pressure to miss-communication and poor execution on the offensive side of the ball. Overall he was happy with the balance of the rushing attack and the passing attack.
Hanson said Big Horn is a very good team that does a great job with the offseason programs and preparing the younger player to be successful once their senior season comes along. Hanson said it is the depth of the program that allows the Rams to be successful each year.
Hanson said the Eagles were making contact at or behind the line of scrimmage, they were not able to finish any of the plays.
For Tongue River, the offense had some success with short dives in the first half but was not able to expand the option offense outside of the dive plays in the first half.
“We missed some balls and we missed some routes,” Hanson said. “We had success, we found some flaws in their schemes. We just did not have the speed or the explosiveness to fully exploit them.”
McLaughlin said he felt like the blitzes he called moved the Rams out of position, allowing the Eagles to gash the Rams defense.
“I thought our defense was stellar tonight,” Pelissier said. “We had some big plays. Coaches sent us on some blitzes that we have been working on all week. We held them to a shut out in the first half, which is what we wanted.”
Tongue River was able to find the endzone in the second half with a rushing touchdown and a passing touchdown. Both two-point conversions were good by the Eagles.
Overall Hanson was proud of how the Eagles battled the whole game and were able to find the endzone in the second half. The Eagles recovered two fumbles in the game, the first on the final drive in the first have and one in the Rams opening drive of the second half.
Hanson said the defense did a good job getting multiple players to the football and playing their best effort.
“That is all we can expect from our players, is maximum effort,” Hanson said. “That is what we tried to give tonight.”
The Rams played their second-string players the entire second half. Hanson said the eagles pulled all of the seniors defensively, subbing out some starters on defense.
Both teams have two more games left on the season. The Eagles will face a non-varsity opponent Oct. 19 when they face the Sheridan High School junior varsity team.
“We are going to rally around the guys who are still working hard, which are guys still in the uniform,” Hanson said. “We are going to get a little bit healthier and a couple of guys back off of injury. We are going to try to win the last two games.”
The Rams have a tough challenge next week, traveling to Lusk to face a physical Niobrara High School team, Pelissier said. The Rams still have a lot to work on, but will enjoy the win, McLaughlin said. The Rams are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs but the team still has work to do and want to earn the number one seed this season entering the playoffs.