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Inexperienced Cougars facing tough football schedule

Aug 28, 2013 - By Randy Tucker, Sports Writer

If you boiled down the preseason football prediction for the Wind River Cougars this season, it might simply be a huge question mark.

The Cougars have 25 players out this season but are missing many key positions from a year ago and have the toughest schedule of any school in Class 1-A.

"We lost at least six or seven two-way starters," Wind River head coach Cullen Noffsinger said. "For the most part they're kids that played a role last year but have a more expanded role this year. It's about how those kids that were secondary role players a year ago advance into top roles."

The Cougars backfield will feature the one-two punch of running backs Zac Noffsinger and Dylan Lookingbill, with Robert Buline calling signals at quarterback. Russell Naef and Brett Roanhorse play the wing or receiver positions.

Noffsinger brings his misdirection, single-wing offense back for another season with the addition of a pistol formation that enables the Cougars to pass the ball a bit easier.

Wind River will be solid on the line with Jack Noe doing an excellent job of directionally snapping the ball from center. Charles Oldman moves to tackle, and Tanner Stover is a solid lineman at guard.

The Cougars have two additional players from Western Heritage Lutheran Academy in Riverton in Will Bushmeyer and Andrew Strong. Bushmeyer is vying for a starting spot on the offensive and defensive line and Strong plays defensive end.

The West 1-A will be a tough conference this season, with Cokeville once again the heavy favorite. Noffsinger sees Riverside as a wild card and expects Rocky Mountain and Shoshoni to be in the mix.

"I don't know if there's anybody in Wyoming that has a tougher schedule that we do," Noffsinger said. "Four teams that were title contenders last year."

Wind River opens the regular season at Class 2-A runner-up Lovell then travels to Casper to play the Natrona County junior varsity. Wind River's home opener comes in week three with Cokeville, then it's back on the road to play four-time defending state champion Southeast at Yoder. Added to the challenge of this schedule is a season with only three home games.

"Playing all those games on the road will be a meat grinder," Noffsinger said.

Andy Perry and former Cougar Joe Chizek assist this season.

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Wind River, Cougars