Chiefs lose opener to Lander freshmenSep 6, 2017 By Scott Akanewich, Sports Editor
You can fool a kicking team once.
But, not twice.
So, after the Lander freshman football squad had executed a successful onside kick to open its game against host Wyoming Indian in Ethete on Tuesday and proceeded to march right down the short field and score the contest's opening points, the hosts were having no more of the Tigers' trickery.
On the ensuing kickoff, Lander tried the onside kick again. This time, the Chiefs were ready.
After the ball took a few hops off the grass surface, Tyler Scott scooped it up and returned it 50 yards for a Wyoming Indian touchdown, as the crowd exploded with enthusiasm.
However, that was the high point of the day for the home team, as the six points were the only dent the Chiefs would make on the scoreboard in a 48-6 defeat.
Previously, the Lander defense was stout early on and forced a Chiefs' punt, which Jack Sweeney fielded and returned down the left sideline 30 yards for a score and an 8-0 advantage following a successful 2-point conversion.
At that point, though, it was still a game at 8-6. The sides squared off, probing each other's defense for weaknesses to exploit.
For the Tigers, the backfield duo of Sweeney and Eli Mazurie took turns receiving hand-offs from quarterback Ty Massey and chewing up yardage in the process.
Before too long, the Tigers extended their lead, as Sweeney scored again on runs of two and 20 yards, and it was 22-6 in favor of the visitors at the end of the first quarter. That score held until the end of the first half, as neither club put any points on the board in the second stanza.
Chiefs defensive lineman Michael Underwood had a solid game, clogging the middle and repeatedly stuffing Lander's run plays.
In the second half, Sweeney continued to run roughshod over the Chiefs' tiring defense, scoring another touchdown to make it 30-6. He then replaced Massey under center and directed another pair of scoring drives which provided the final margin.
Despite the score, Chiefs head coach Todd Ghormley saw the glass half-full in the aftermath.
"I saw some good things out there," he said. "We simply need people who want to move the ball, make contact and block. We just need more bodies."
Indeed, the Chiefs had only 13 players available for the game, which doesn't leave much room for error, injury or rest, said Ghormley.
"It's always a challenging experience," he said. "Makes for a long day."
But, this was only the first game on the schedule for the new campaign and the Wyoming Indian boss said he sees good things ahead.
"Today was a great experience and a lot of fun for our players," said Ghormley. "I'm getting my leaders to take charge, and we're going to build on our success."
Wyoming Indian (0-1) hosts the Wind River junior varsity on Saturday.
Lander 24 0 8 16 -- 48
Wyoming Indian 6 0 0 0 -- 6
LAN - Sweeney 30-yard punt return (run successful), 7:00.
WI - Scott 50-yard kickoff return (run failed), 6:48.
LAN - Sweeney 2-yard run (run failed), 3:51.
LAN - Sweeney 20-yard run (pass successful), 0:27.
LAN - Sweeney 5-yard run (pass successful), 8:40.
LAN - Mazurie 25-yard run (run successful), 4:16.
LAN - Mazurie 20-yard run (run successful), 0:37.