SHERIDAN — The Sheridan High School football team departs to Laramie en route for the state title game Saturday. From the experience, players will make memories that will last past their time in high school.
Coy Steel, class of 2017, said he talks about the title game with friends and family whenever the topic arises.
It also brings a sense of pride and bragging rights when he talks with his new teammates at Montana State University. Steel was on the 2015 and 2016 state championship teams.
Aaron Sessions, class of 2018, won three titles in a row for the Broncs and remembers the feeling of playing in War Memorial Stadium.
In Sessions’ senior year, Sheridan faced Natrona for the second consecutive year. He remembers not feeling the best right before the game.
“I had hurt my hip the weekend before so I had that wrapped up too. I was thinking, ‘Man I do not think I am going to play too well.’ As soon as I got out of the locker room and I got into the stadium, I knew it was going to be a big game. That first kickoff, I remember that one pretty well.”
Sessions returned the opening kickoff, helping the Broncs win 28-14.
For both, players the memories with the team are not just during the game but the week of practice leading up to the game.
“State week is big; I loved state week,” Sessions said. “It is definitely the most hype and most energetic practices of the year other than the rival schools we play. It is definitely a time to hone in on film and on your skills.”
For Steel, it was the late practices that stick out the most for him.
“I remember I always like when it started getting dark for practices when the time changes and you are still playing in the playoffs,” Steel said. “I thought that was kind of special. It just seems like you were out there all night, working. Everybody is happy to be there because we know what we are playing for.”
Sessions, as a sophomore, and Steel, as a junior, were on the 2015 championship team that defeated Campbell County High School 38-31 in the title game, the last time Sheridan and a Gillette team met for a championship.
Even though it is a different school, the same rivalry exists between Sheridan and Thunder Basin High School, Steel said.
He sees similarities between the 2015 season and this year with the Gillette school winning the regular-season game and the Broncs working hard all year to have a chance for a rematch in the championship game.
Sessions and Steel have younger siblings suiting up for the title game this year: sophomore Brock Steel and senior Ryan Sessions. The brothers all stay in touch, talking football each week.
Sessions and Steel both went on to play at Division I Football Championship Subdivision schools. Both said high school football is special because the teammates they had were guys they grew up with. It was a chance to represent the hometown.
Sessions said his class was tight-knit and had great chemistry, and that is what led to winning three titles in a row.
He sees the same closeness in this year’s seniors and believes it will help them in the title game.
Sessions continued his football career at Weber State University on Ogden, Utah. Weber State is currently ranked third in the FCS standings.
Sessions said he has recently moved from free safety to the nickel back position and is second on the depth chart with the possibility of rotating in with the starters during games. He long snaps on the punt teams and is on the punt return and kickoff coverage team.
Sessions received a fumble last week while on the kickoff team and has four tackles on the season.
Weber State plays the University of Montana Saturday. Sessions said a win gives Weber State sole possession of the Big Sky Conference title.
Steel is playing at Montana State this year and has been rotating in at wide receiver and contributing on special teams or whenever he is needed. Montana State is ranked 10th in the FCS standings. Steel said some mid-season losses hurt the team but they are still on the hunt for a playoff spot.
Steel has 19 receptions for 273 yards and four touchdowns this year.
Sessions and Steel look to help their respective teams make a playoff run as their younger brothers and the rest of the Broncs try to end the season with their fourth title in five years.