Nov 24, 2013 - By Randy Tucker, Sports WriterSee the entire 2013 all-Fremont County football team on page C-4.
Imagine a horse accelerating from a canter to a full gallop in a single stride, along with the power to pull heavy objects while darting in and out around obstacles, and you have an image of Sterling Baker's running style for the Dubois Rams this season.
Baker is the Fremont County Player of the Year.
He hails from the smallest county school fielding a football team. The Dubois Rams, with just 10 boys on the roster, were a force to be reckoned with in 6-man football this season. In their three years in the division the Rams have been runner-up, state champions and losers of a narrow, 2-point decision in the state semifinals this season.
The award was voted on by the sports staff of The Ranger, Lander Journal and Wind River News.
A big factor in the team's 29-3 record over the last three years has been the play of Baker.
The youngest son in a football-oriented family, Baker was destined to be a star on the gridiron. Father Monte Baker was a running back for the Rams in the 1970s, and brothers Austin and Mitchell were all-county and all-state players for the Rams in recent years.
Baker is an extremely versatile athlete. He also is the 195-pound state wrestling champion in Class 2-A, and exploits on the track are even more impressive.
It's rare for an athlete to have enough speed to run the 110-meter high hurdles in the mid-15-second range, and it is equally rare for an athlete to hurl the discus more than 130 feet. Baker did both in winning the two events at the Class1-A track championships in Casper last season.
An honor student, Baker has an infectious sense of humor yet took the role of team leader seriously this season.
His ability as a kicker put the Rams in excellent defensive position throughout the year as most of his kickoffs sailed into our out of the back of the end zone. Only the prevailing westerly winds of Dubois kept the ball in play when the Rams were kicking into the west.
Baker was an equal threat receiving kicks, and many teams elected to onside kick the ball or simply kick it out of bounds to avoid the prospect of Baker rolling up the field at full speed.
Baker's ability to shift gears and break into a full-out sprint in just two steps had defenders second-guessing how a 6-foot, 195-pound back could possess so much speed. He also was a shifty runner, often "breaking ankles" of would-be tacklers as they set to hit him in the open field. With just a slight shift of his weight, or a jab step left or right, defenders often were rolling over to watch Baker race past them into the end zone.
His ability to pass was outstanding as well. He threw for 13 touchdowns and had just 16 incompletions in 61 passing attempts this season.
Baker is one of a handful of athletes to make the all-county team three consecutive years. In 2011 he and brother Mitchell both made the team.
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