SHERIDAN — The Sheridan High School football team suffered its first loss in nearly two years last Friday against Natrona County. The Mustangs dominated the Broncs across the board as many of the varsity players tasted defeat for the first time in their careers.
“We just became so used to winning because that’s all we knew,” Sheridan quarterback Jacob Boint said. “That (Natrona game) was a real eye-opener.”
Sheridan head coach Jeff Mowry believes the humbling experience could prove beneficial for his team moving forward.
“In life you’re never undefeated. In life you got to learn how to deal with adversity and handle it and not just sweep it under the rug and chalk it up to, ‘You know that was just a fluke,’” Mowry said. “It wasn’t a fluke. Natrona outplayed us. If we want to see them down the road we’ve got to get better, and we’ve got to not only get better but we’ve got to get better at a quicker rate than they’re because right now they’re 27 points better than us.”
Mowry hopes the Broncs have heeded his advice and put it to good use in practice as it doesn’t get any easier this week. Sheridan hosts unbeaten Thunder Basin Friday at 7 p.m., and will look to amend many of the deficiencies that popped up in Casper.
“There were definitely early-season struggles,” Mowry said. “I think the exciting part about them is they’re all correctable. We had some things that went wrong, but there’s nothing that isn’t fixable. So while 34-7 is never good, what we do with this loss can be very good, and our team can really grow from a setback like we had in Casper.”
Sheridan didn’t play particularly well in special teams, had its fair share of struggles on offense — scoring its fewest points since the 2014 state title game — and the defense wore down in the second half as Natrona scored 20 unanswered points in the final 14 minutes.
The Broncs will look to shore up many of those areas as the Bolts boast an offense more than capable of lighting up the scoreboard. Thunder Basin has outscored its three opponents this season 143-11, which included shutouts of Cheyenne Central and Cheyenne South and a 34-11 pasting of Cheyenne East last week.
The Bolts enter Friday with the most productive passing game in the state, which represents a 180-degree difference to what the Broncs saw last Friday at Natrona. Where the Mustangs were primary a run-first offense, Thunder Basin prefers to sling it around as often as possible.
“Our defense definitely has their work cut out for them,” Mowry said.
Mowry also expects that his offense will feel quite a bit of resistance. The Bolts come equipped with long-time Campbell County defensive coordinator Jason Gill who had helped fortify the Camels’ defense for years.
Sheridan’s defense has shown its stout nature in 21-6 and 50-6 victories over Rock Springs and Central, respectively. Many of the special teams’ struggles last week gave Natrona short fields and that played a large part in the Broncs yielding north of 30 points.
Sheridan held Thunder Basin relatively in check last season as the Broncs scored a 45-20 victory in the Bolts’ first football season. It took Thunder Basin until the month of October to win its third game in 2017 en route to a 5-5 year.
The Broncs understand the Bolts bring even more to the table in 2018, and Sheridan will likely have play a much cleaner game than last week to return to their winning ways Friday.
“(Thunder Basin) will definitely be a good test for us this week,” Boint said.