SHERIDAN — For the past few years, every team in 4A has taken aim at the Sheridan High School football team. The three-time defending state champions represent the squad every other team wants to emulate and, coincidently, knock off.
However, before the entire state measured itself in relation to the Broncs, Sheridan measured itself based on another team — the Natrona County Mustangs.
“Since 1992, when (head coach) Steve Harshman took over, they have been the top target in 4A,” Sheridan head coach Jeff Mowry said. “When our staff got here in 2007, we thought, ‘Man, if we could one day be as good as Natrona is, we are going to be OK.’ We kind of measure ourselves against them year in and year out.
“We are going to find out Friday night where we are compared to them early in the season this year,” Mowry said.
The game is slated for a 7 p.m. kickoff in Casper. The Broncs have had the Mustangs’ number of late, beating Natrona six straight times, twice in state title games.
In many of the recent contests, the Mustangs simply couldn’t run with the Broncs. Sheridan has outscored Natrona 242-113 in the last three seasons; however, the last two contests have been decided by just one and two scores, respectively.
“This date has been hanging on Natrona’s calendar for a long time,” Mowry said. “It’s a big matchup with a lot of seniors on both sides of the ball. It will be an exciting Friday night.”
Natrona had its way, on paper at least, against Sheridan in the 2017 state title game — a contest the Broncs won 28-14. The Mustangs more than doubled the Broncs’ offensive output and ran more than double the number of offensive snaps.
Natrona’s defense bottled up Sheridan’s running game only allowing the Broncs to gain 36 yards on the ground. The Broncs will likely look to get the ground game churning Friday night.
Sheridan’s Parker Christensen had the hot hand in the Broncs’ dismantling of Cheyenne Central last week. He ran for 110 yards on just five carries, while also adding 83 yards receiving on three catches to go alongside a kickoff return for a touchdown.
“Our o-line did a great job,” Christensen said. “They really had a good push.”
That offensive line welcomed new faces to the fray this season and Mowry, much like his running back, is enjoying the progress he’s seen in the trenches.
“They’ve done a very good job, and again it has been our seniors that have stepped up to the challenge,” Mowry said. “They’ve bought into coach (Kevin) Rizer’s, and his process of developing o-lineman is something he’s proven year in and year out. He’s taken an inexperienced bunch and in two weeks have made huge strides with them.”
Sheridan quarterback Jacob Boint showed he’s capable of slinging it around if needed. He went 13-for-14 for 190 yards in the victory over the Indians as he has gotten more and more comfortable in his starting role.
Both Sheridan and Natrona boast matching 2-0 records this season. The Broncs throttled Central last week 50-6, a week after beating Rock Springs 21-6. The Mustangs have dominated both their opponents this season, downing Cheyenne South 59-0 in the opener and toppling Campbell County 58-6 last week.
Mowry knows Friday won’t prove easy in an respect as his Broncs look to continue their dominance over the team from down south.
“Natrona is a very, very tough place to play,” Mowry said. “It’s a beautiful stadium in Casper. They always have a great home crowd. It will be a tough environment for us to go down and play well in. I hope we take the energy we had this last Friday night and carry over it to this Friday.”