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Riverton hosts Lander in conference finale Friday

Oct 18, 2012 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer

It's not that Friday's Riverton - Lander game at Wolverine Field means anything officially. Both Class 3-A East teams have qualified for next week's high school football playoffs, Riverton as the top seed from the East and Lander as the fourth seed.

Riverton will host its playoff games, while Lander will hop on a bus.

Regardless of the outcome, both teams place in the standings is fixed.

So is Friday's game meaningless, like a scrimmage a week before the playoffs?

Maybe not. Probably not. Certainly not.

Friday's gridiron battle is far from inconsequential.

Ask any player 10 years from now how he did against the Tigers, and he will be able to tell you the score and probably the play-by-play details.

The game is the cross-county rivalry match of the season, and the Wolverines (5-2, 4-0 Class 3-A East) are not about to let the Tigers (2-5, 2-2 Class 3-A East) stand in their way of a perfect league record. Game time Friday is set for 7 p.m., and there will be fireworks -- literally (see related story).

Add to that the fact that the last three times these two Fremont County Class 3-A teams have played have all been decided by three points or less, and you get an idea that nothing will be a given Friday.

"This group (of Wolverines) is pretty goal-oriented. They want to be undefeated in conference, and Lander is our last game on our slate for that. Plus, it is the Lander-Riverton game. The crowd is going to be huge," Riverton head coach Jeremy McCormick said.

Friday's game also will be the first time Riverton's seniors have played Lander in Riverton. Because of scheduling issues when Lander moved from the Class 3-A West to the East two years ago, it is the first time Riverton has hosted Lander since 2009.

Riverton is healthy after its 14-13 conference championship win on the road last weekend in Douglas, and the Tigers come in with a bit of mojo of their own after playing Douglas and Buffalo tough and throttling Rawlins last week.

The Wolverines have locked up home-field advantage through the playoffs and will likely play Cody in the first round, although, depending on how the ball bounces Friday night, RHS could end up hosting Worland or Jackson.

The Tigers will battle top seed Powell in Park County in their first-round playoff game.

"We need to win the game and keep rolling into the playoffs. We can't overlook Lander, they are getting better, but we are planning to win," McCormick said.

It may be tough sledding for the Tigers who have the weakest Class 3-A offense, averaging just 189 yards and just 11 point-per-game compared to Riverton's 346 yards and 27 points-per-game.

But games aren't played on paper.

"Riverton is a great team, but we have improved as a team these last six games," LVHS coach Doug Hughes said.

Friday's game will be senior recognition night for Riverton, and Xavier Webb, Kade Salisbury, Michael Johnston, Keith Sack, Sunny Maupin, Jordan Belville, Robert Salazar, TJ Galey, Lane Savage, Wyatt Meyer, Dawson Steeds and Jeremy Vincent will all be recognized prior to the game.

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