Wolverines try for conference championship against DouglasOct 11, 2012 By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer
What began as a team goal to host a home football playoff game has turned into so much more for the Wolverines.
Now the goal is a Class 3-A East conference championship.
It's all on the line and within reach Friday night when the two teams with undefeated league records clash in Converse County as Riverton battles Douglas. Game time is at 7 p.m. at Bearcat Stadium.
While both teams are an identical 3-0 in conference play, Douglas has a 5-1 overall record coming into the game and the Bearcats' only loss was on the road at Star Valley. Riverton enters Friday night's contest with a 4-2 overall record with losses to Powell and Green River. The teams are ranked fourth and fifth respectively in statewide media, polling behind Powell, Star Valley and Green River.
"Our kids know what is at stake," RHS head coach Jeremy McCormick said. "We already have a home playoff game in the first round, but they want a conference championship. If we win Friday, we still control our own destiny."
McCormick said the Wolverines have upped the intensity in practice this week, but they suffered a loss Monday when backup quarterback and defensive player sophomore Anthony Condie suffered a broken collarbone during a junior varsity game against Evanston.
"(Senior) Michael Johnston will be our backup quarterback," McCormick said. "We've had him throwing some and taking some snaps. Johnston can throw the ball well, he does a lot of good things."
Other than Condie's injury, the Wolverines expect to be at full strength, which includes academic eligibility, an issue the team struggled with a year ago.
"This year has been really good, nothing like I have seen before," McCormick said. "They are doing a good job of keeping their grades up."
Douglas head coach Jay Rhodes is in his seventh season, and his record against the Wolverines is 6-1.
"Riverton is going to be a tough test for us; I am glad we got them at home," Rhoades told the Douglas Budget. "This conference has been ours for the past number of seasons so they are going to come in here with the goal of taking it from us."
The Wolverines will look to stop Logan Barker, the state's third leading rusher, who averages 119 yards per game. Thus far, he has been the Bearcats' lone offensive threat -- no other Douglas runner averages more than 18 yards per game.
"I think the biggest thing is obviously their depth," McCormick said. "They don't have 25 seniors with 25 juniors right behind them. They are still physical, and they've ran more than they have thrown."
Douglas has played in the state championship game for four consecutive seasons and five out of the last six. Last year, the Bearcats lost a 15-14 thriller to Powell for the Class 3-A state championship at War Memorial Stadium at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.
But Riverton will try and turn the table on the Bearcats' success Friday.
"It's exciting," McCormick said. "There has been a lot of work to get here. We expected to be in this situation.
Our weight room participation was really good this year, and we had a great off-season program."