Sep 4, 2013 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterGame time for the Class 3-A regular season opener for both teams is 7 p.m.
The Powell Panthers, owners of a 15-game winning streak, two consecutive state titles and a roster packed full of seniors, will bring an experienced team to the gridiron Friday night when they host the Riverton Wolverines as the regular season kicks off for both schools.
Game time Friday is set for 7 p.m.
Picked by many as the team to beat again this season in Wyoming Class 3-A football, Powell ran and threw for more than 450 yards on the way to a 53-0 route of the Custer County District High School Cowboys from Miles City, Mont., in their week-zero contest.
Powell held the Cowboys scoreless despite playing against Ben Herzog, already the all-time career passing leader for Miles City, who has thrown for more than 2,100 yards and still has his senior season in front of him.
"Obviously it's nice to have as many returning players and as much experience as we have on our team. That is one of the reasons we were able to jump out so early and perform well last Saturday," said Jim Stringer, head coach of the Powell Panthers.
After beating Douglas 15-14 to win the state title in 2011, the Panthers scored late on a touchdown pass thrown by returning quarterback Hayden Cragoe to beat Star Valley 13-10 last year for their second straight title.
As if Riverton won't have enough to worry about Friday, not only does Powell return several skilled players returning, their lines on both the offensive and defensive side of the football are bigger than Powell teams have been in the past several seasons.
"We have a really strong offensive and defensive line. We average 205 to 215 pound and have a couple of kids in the 250-pound range who are athletic and can get around and move. We pull quite a bit. We get them up and active," Stringer said.
Like most coaches, Powell hopes to bring a balanced attack against Riverton and feels that athleticism with skill players will be advantageous. But with the advantage of "a couple really strong backs," Stringer thinks this team may be a bit more run-oriented than in the past few seasons.
"We return eight on both sides of the ball. We came into camp with a high level of experience, and it has been pretty easy to get things installed and implemented. We're already doing some things now that we were planning on doing in week three and four last year," Stringer said.
Stringer is not certain what he'll see when Riverton comes to town Friday with first-year coach Pat Patterson.
"We didn't get to see a whole lot in their week-zero game (against Worland). As far as any tendencies and schemes, it's kind of hard to judge with a first-year coach. We haven't had a chance to see how he is going to respond to the flow of the game. We appreciate the film exchange, but it didn't give us a whole lot to look at," Stringer said.
Powell is now in its second full season on a new artificial surface field, and it's the first time Riverton will play at the new stadium.
"We love the field. It's just unbelievable. We practice on it every day, and it looks so pretty on Friday nights. Now that people have seen some home games, they appreciate what this facility offers," Stringer said.
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