Oct 28, 2012 - By Randy Tucker, Sports WriterThree Wranglers were knocked out of the game, two of them hospitalized.
YODER -- The scene was reminiscent of "Quest for Fire," with bands of Stone Age humans battling each other on a frigid landscape of swamps and semi-frozen turf.
But this was no movie. The conditions at Teeters Field on the campus of Southeast Goshen High School in Yoder were nothing short of atrocious for Friday's opening round Class 1-A football game between the third-seeded Shoshoni Wranglers from the 1-A West and the home-standing Cyclones from the 1-A East, seeded second.
Southeast's size and power dominated the smaller, faster Wranglers 61-21 in a game highlighted more by ambulance runs and stunned players lying on the frozen ground than by stellar offensive performances.
"Games with the significance of the playoffs shouldn't be played in conditions like these," Shoshoni head coach Rick Lindblad said.
In no other sport do weather and field conditions hold the magnitude that they do in football. Muddy, sloppy surfaces favor the larger, heavier team in dramatic ways and limit the ability of fast, skill-based teams to perform well.
But Lindblad was not looking for excuses in his team's opening-round loss.
"I take full responsibility for the outcome of the game," Lindblad said. "The kids played hard in very difficult circumstances. Sometimes the entire postseason can come down to a single extra point as it did for us at Burlington earlier in the year."
The Wranglers fell 22-21 to the Huskies on the road back in September and finished third in the league as a result. Burlington rolled over Upton-Sundance 33-0 Friday afternoon. The Wranglers manhandled U-S 40-6 in opening-week action at Sundance.
With water standing over the tops of the players' shoes and temperatures dipping into the teens, both squads showed signs of hypothermia as the ball squirted loose repeatedly, often before contact was made.
Shoshoni took the opening kickoff, and quarterback Tyler Clemetson promptly hit freshman receiver Tristan Parrish for a 14-yard gain and first down. Parrish had the best game of his young career, pacing the Wranglers with 75 receiving yards on six catches.
The drive ended quickly with a fumbled snap recovered by Southeast's John Lessard at the Wrangler 37.
Cyclone coach Mark Bullington went exclusively to slow-moving junior full back Wyatt Somsen on the next series. At 6-1 and 210 pounds, the sure-footed Somsen was the perfect weapon in the adverse conditions and rumbled the short 37 yards on three straight power runs before crashing in from the 4-yard line just 81 seconds into the contest.
Three-and-out was an all-too-familiar scene for the Wranglers throughout the night. Senior Josh Thoren punted for the first of his seven tries on the night.
Somsen carried the ball on nine of the 10 plays in the next drive with the speed and inevitability of a glacier bore, scoring on another four-yard play.
Shoshoni displayed some offense prowess on the next drive, with Jayden Haslam scampering 36 yards to the 20 and Clemetson finding Parrish on a 20-yard slant pattern for the score. Thoren's kick cut the margin in half to 14-7 as the period ended.
A fumbled backward pass gave the Cyclones the ball at the 15, and this time Zach Eisenbarth carried the ball twice before scoring once again from the 4.
Bullington had an excellent game plan to limit Shoshoni's superior speed in addition to the adverse slippery field conditions. He covered Thoren, the Wranglers' leading receiver, man-to-man and rotated a safety over the top to double-cover the 6-4 senior. The defense left the other three receivers in single coverage, but as the cold deepened Clemetson's accuracy dipped.
Eisenbarth stepped in front of a pass intended for Lawry Johnson at the 24 and raced 76 yards on the interception return for yet another big-play score.
Thoren drilled a towering 61-yard punt on the next possession that drove the ball inside the 5. The Wranglers held but couldn't convert on a fourth-and-inches play at the 31. Southeast mounted a 69-yard drive on runs by Eisenbarth, and Somsen capped by Eisenbarth's five-yard touchdown with 31 seconds left in the half.
On the scoring play, Shoshoni senior defense end Dillon Gies took a hard hit from 6-5 215 pound tackle Colton Stees and dropped to the field in extreme pain. EMTs took Geis to the Torrington hospital, where he was revaluated and later released with a severe pelvic bruise. Earlier in the period Eisenbarth nailed Haslam on a comeback bloc,k and Haslam left the game for good as well.
Trailing 34-7 at the half, it looked like the blowout was on, but the Wranglers showed great character to open the third quarter. Freshman linebacker Pat Forrester ripped the ball out of Eisenbarth's hands at the 40 as the Wrangler defense held the Cyclones twice in the period. Defensively, safety Mason Steffen had an outstanding game. He made several open-field tackles on the larger Cyclone running backs.
Thoren drove a 55-yard punt inside the 11, and Pat Kelly covered the muffed Southeast return for SHS.
Micah Mills carried the ball twice, capping the short drive on a four-yard touchdown run. Johnson caught the 2-point the conversion pass from Clemetson, Shoshoni was back in business.
Bullington had his kicker and punter drive the ball out of bounds on almost every possession in deference to Shoshoni's speed, but one punt remained in the field of play that Parrish returned 28 yards to the 26. Clemetson cashed in on the field position six plays later on a two-yard sneak.
Trailing just 34-21, the comeback could be felt in the shivering crowd. But it was not to be.
Quarterback Garrett Bartel, a transfer from Lingle-Ft. Laramie, broke on a 62-yard score just 19 seconds after Clemetson's TD and broke the Wranglers' hearts in the process.
Sophomore defensive lineman Walker Reynolds played a solid game defensively, but a trap block sent him to the field. The Goshen County ambulance made another hospital run, with the result a severe concussion.
Southeast rallied for three more scores in the final period and turned the tight game into a blowout.
The Cyclone reserves never took the field and Southeast advanced to a Friday semifinal game more than 450 miles to the west in Cokeville.
"Mason (Steffen) played well defensively tonight, and Tyler (Clemetson) played hard at quarterback," Lindblad said. "Nathaniel Lutz and J.J. Crichton blocked well all night, and Triston (Parrish) really came to play."
Shoshoni graduates just six players in Geis, Thoren, Mills, Rusty Davis, Casey LaGois and Thomas Kelly and should be a favorite next season with 13 returning juniors.
SHOSHONI 7 0 14 0 -- 21
SOUTHEAST GOSHEN 14 20 8 19 -- 61
SE - Wyatt Somsen- 4-run (Josh Kirchhefer from Garrett Bartel) 10:39
SE - Somsen 4-td (pass failed) 4:24
SHO - Tristan Parrish 20-pass from Tyler Clemetson (Josh Thoren kick) 2:41
SE - Zach Eisenbarth 4-run (David Becker from Bartel) 11:30
SE - Eisenbarth 76-interception return (pass failed) 7:52
SE - Eisenbarth 5-run (pass failed) :31
SHO - Micah Mills 4-run (Lawry Johnson from Clemetson) 4:35
SHO - Clemetson 2-run (pass failed) 1:26
SE - Bartel 62-run (Jeff Burroughs from Bartel) 1:07
SE - Eisenbarth 42-run (33 kick) 11:49
SE - Eisenbarth 5-run (kick failed) 9:49
SE - Somsen- 3-run kick failed) 5:51
Shoshoni 162, Southeast Goshen 466
Shoshoni 34-15, Southeast Goshen 51-449
Shoshoni 147, Southeast Goshen 17
Shoshoni -- Tyler Clemetson 10 (-42), Mason Steffen 1-4, Micah Mills 13-13, Jayden Haslam 2-37, awry Johnson 2- (-3), Josh Oaks 3-0, Ethan Marple 1-1, Tristan Parrish 2-5.
Southeast Goshen -- Wyatt Somsen 22-149, Josh Kirchhefer 4- 19, Garrett Bartel 10-146, Zach Eisenbarth 1- 125, David Becker 3-7, Chase Cushman 1-3
Shoshoni -- Tyler Clemetson 15-32-3 147
Southeast Goshen -- Garrett Bartell 4-6-17
Shoshoni -- Tristan Parrish 6- 75, Lawry Johnson 5-40, Mason Steffen 2-18, Josh Thoren 1-7, Micah Mills 1-7 Southeast Goshen -- Josh Kirchhefer 1-3, David Becker 1-3, Jeff Burroughs 2-11
Southeast Goshen - Zach Eisenbarth, David Becker, Josh Kirchhefer
Shoshoni -- Josh Thoren 7-270 38.6 avg. (long 61) Southeast Goshen -- Wyatt Somsen 2-64 32.0 avg. (long 42)
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