CASPER — Aaron Sessions stood as an essential piece of the Sheridan High School football team winning its third straight state title in November.
Sessions’ play Saturday during the 45th annual Shrine Bowl at Natrona County High School had some of his Broncs teammates feeling a bit of deja vu.
Sessions returned an interception for a touchdown and threw for a critical first down late in the game that helped seal the 13-7 win for the North.
“He makes big plays,” Sheridan’s Kyle Custis said. “… He’s just such a super athlete and such a nice guy. He changes the game. He doesn’t talk a lot to other players, he doesn’t rile us all up, but he makes plays on the field that change the game.”
Sessions, playing safety, was named defensive Most Valuable Player mostly due to an 83-yard interception he returned for a touchdown midway through the third quarter. The pick-six leveled the game at 7, and his journey to the end zone closely resembled his kickoff return for a touchdown last fall in Laramie.
“That gave me a flashback to the state championship game against Natrona, which was awesome,” Sheridan’s Connor Jorgensen said.
The North team had struggled to move the ball offensively up to that point with its lone scoring opportunity — a field goal attempt late in the second quarter — sailing wide right. The South was threatening to open up a two-score lead, driving on the plus-side of the 50-yard line, when Green River’s Chance Hofer, on fourth down, threw over the middle of the field into the waiting arms of Sessions.
The future Weber State product evaded numerous would-be tacklers, cut back around midfield and outran everyone for the critical game-tying score.
“That completely swung the momentum,” Sheridan’s Blayne Baker said.
Sessions wasn’t done making his presence felt. And this time he did it on the other side of the ball.
After Greybull quarterbacl Riley Hill ran in the go-ahead score early in the fourth frame, Sessions’ number got called again to make a big play.
North assistant coach Steve Harshman called another bubble screen for Sessions, the third of the game, but this one had a wrinkle. Upon catching the ball from Hill, Sessions threw downfield to a wide open Riley Shepperson, of Natrona, for a first down that sealed the win.
“Coach Harshman asked me, ‘Can you throw when you’re running left?’” Sessions recalled. “I said, ‘I can do anything you want me to do. I’ll get it done.’ That’s exactly what happened. We got that first down, and that was the deal breaker.”
The North improved to 24-18-3 against its southern rival, which includes six straight victories; however, it didn’t look as though the steak would continue for the first 24 minutes Saturday.
South drove 71 yards on its opening drive, and Star Valley’s Josh Dawson ran in the game’s first touchdown from eight yards out.
South bottled up the North’s run game for a lion’s share of the contest and North remained inconstant through the air.
Eventually, though, Sessions made his imprint on the game.
Saturday put a fitting bow on the Sheridan quartet’s — Baker, Custis, Jorgensen and Sessions — high school career, one they won’t soon forget.
“Football has meant everything,” Baker said. “It has completely changed the person I am. It has made me into the great man I want to be. It has put me in the right direction. Football has meant everything. Football has been my life for the last four years and it has been extremely rewarding.”