Sep 5, 2012 - By Randy Tucker, Staff WriterThursday's 7:30 p.m. kickoff in Shoshoni marks the 49th meeting of the Shoshoni Wranglers and the Wind River Cougars on the gridiron.
Since the consolidation of Morton and Pavillion into Wind River in the fall of 1969 the rivalry has been one of the best in Wyoming, regardless of classification.
Shoshoni broke a decadelong losing streak with a come-from-behind 29-15 win at Pavillion a year ago. Prior to that win the Cougars had blasted the Wranglers 278-18 over the previous 10 seasons.
Most games have been close, but a few were blowouts. In 1985, Shoshoni ripped the Cougars 44-0 in the midst of a Class B State Championship season. Just three seasons ago, Wind River rolled over the Wranglers 55-0.
Contrasting offensive styles should make this game interesting for fans on both sides of the field. Wind River head coach Cullen Noffsinger instituted the single-wing midway through last season, and the Cougar offense picked up quickly. Spinners, counters, powers, leads and traps highlight the run oriented offense.
Shoshoni on the other extreme has the best passing attack in all of Class 1-A. The Wranglers spread the field, isolate receivers, and aren't afraid to throw the long ball.
The two teams enter the contest under different circumstances. Wind River opened the season with a short-handed week-zero loss to Lingle-Fort Laramie at Casper and a hard fought 12-6 loss to Class 2-A Kemmerer at home last week.
Shoshoni didn't have a week-zero contest when because Wyoming Indian didn't have enough eligible players. The Wranglers made their longest trip of the season to open at the newly formed U-S Patriots, a combination of Upton and Sundance, at Sundance and rolled over the combined squad 40-6 behind 270 yards through the air.
Wind River lives on the running ability of senior Ward Gordon. Gordon is nursing an injury but played well at linebacker and running back against Kemmerer. Zac Lindstadt quarterbacks the Cougars with Tyler Rupe and Roger Wagon his favorite receivers. Sophomores Zach Noffsinger and Cole Bossert can also run the ball well.
The Cougar line is a big one, paced by Kaden Koenig and Charles Oldman.
Shoshoni made the playoffs with a winning record for the first time in a decade last season and return all but four players from that team.
Tyler Clemetson takes the helm at quarterback and has a huge selection of talented receivers to choose from. Senior Josh Thoren caught four touchdowns at Sundance last week but Lawry Johnson, Mason Steffen, Josh Oaks Triston Parrish and Micah Mills all snagged numerous receptions as well.
On the ground the Wranglers run behind a quick, athletic offensive line anchored by all-county center Nathaniel Lutz.
The Wranglers run the ball with Mills, Jayden Haslam, Oaks and Parish all getting carries last week.
Defensively, the Cougars play big in the box and are very tough against the run. The Wranglers are more of a swarming defense, utilizing perhaps the best team speed in all of Class 1-A.
Thursday will feature a full slate of athletic events between the two schools, with a junior high game kicking off at 4:30 pm. The Wrangler and Cougar volleyball teams face off at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., followed by the varsity football kickoff at 7:30 pm.
A tailgate party is planned with fans from both schools invited to attend.
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