SHERIDAN — How the Broncs finished their game against Thunder Basin last Friday told Sheridan High School head coach Jeff Mowry everything he needed to know about his team’s pride and character.
The Bolts — with the win already in hand, leading 23-13 with under a minute to play — lined up in an eye formation behind center from Sheridan’s 1-yard line. The Broncs, who for the first time in 11 years were just moments away from their second consecutive loss, ponied up and thwarted the Bolts’ scoring attempt.
Even in a losing effort, Sheridan still embodied what made it a state champion for three straight years.
“At halftime we said, ‘Finish this half. No matter what happens on the scoreboard, finish this half,’” Mowry said. “Right up to the last play of the game, they had the ball on the 1-yard line, that said a lot about how we responded in the second half.”
Sheridan will look to display that same toughness from the outset Friday when it travels to Kelly Walsh for a 6 p.m. kickoff.
The Trojans, like the Broncs, sit with a 2-2 record. Kelly Walsh is fresh off a 14-7 loss at Rock Springs — a team Sheridan toppled 21-6 in the season opener.
The Trojans will force the Broncs to adjust to a new offensive scheme again this week. Where Thunder Basin primarily moved the ball through the air, Kelly Walsh elects to stick to the ground game and that involves one player.
“We do know that through four games they give it No. 8 (Brock) Spiegelberg a lot, so if we can stop him, then we are going to have some success,” Mowry said. “… He’s by far the best running back we’ve seen so far, and he’s going to be tough to stop. If they give him the ball 30 times, he’s likely going to break one or two runs, and we have to prevent that from happening.”
Spiegelberg owns the top three rushing totals in 4A this season as he ran for more than 225 yards in each of the first three games. Sheridan held Spiegelberg to 116 yards rushing in the semifinals of last year’s state playoffs — a 28-7 victory for the Broncs.
Linebacker Garrett Coon looks froward to the challenge Kelly Walsh’s go-to back will present Friday.
“It’s pretty fun because I like to be a little competitive and meeting heads with some of the best backs in the state and making tackles on them and stuff like that,” Coon said. “It is just fun for me.”
One big question mark still revolves around Sheridan’s rushing attack. Starting running back Parker Christensen didn’t play in the loss to Thunder Basin with a tender hamstring. Mowry elected to air on the side of caution with Christensen, who will be a game-time decision as to whether he suits up Friday.
If Christensen can’t go, Coon will likely take over as the starting running back while Quinn Heyneman will also receive numerous carries. Coon rushed for 34 yards on 10 rushes, and Heyneman only recorded three runs for minus-two yards, but Mowry is confident either one can carry the load.
“Garrett Coon, Quinn Heyneman, I have the utmost confidence in them to take over the backfield roles,” Mowry said. “Absolutely, if Parker is ready, we’d love to have him. He’s a guy we want on offense and defense. But I was pleased with our run game out of Heyneman and Coon. We definitely have some things to work on pass protection wise and blocking wise, but they did a really nice job, and they are both good runners.”
Kelly Walsh last beat Sheridan in 2011 in the season opener. Last year’s regular-season contest came down to the wire with the Broncs outlasting the Trojans 37-34 in overtime.
Sheridan would like to avoid similar late-game drama this time around, but more importantly the Broncs want to rediscover their winning ways.