Protecting the Rock

Harrison Epstein photos
Six Herders defenders, including Brody Cathcart (55), Cade Griffitts (24), Julih Pittsley (53) and Dawson Blaylock (11), combine for a tackle on Kemmerer running back Colter Julian midway through the game Oct. 11. 

Harrison Epstein

It went down to the wire. With temperatures dropping as the night went on, the Glenrock High School Herders had a two-point lead with just three minutes left, but the Kemmerer Rangers were marching.
After moving the ball down the field on a combination of timely passes and pounding runs, they sat in the red zone. With the ball at the nine-yard-line on 4th and 2, the Rangers trusted their gut, running right up the middle of the field. Except lineman Julih Pittsley stood in the way, throwing down the opposing running back and giving possession back to the Herders.
“I’m just thinking do my job. I saw everybody go in, looked at the backfield, saw the guy coming right for me and just dropped my feet, stepped to him, and made the tackle,” Pittsley said.
By the time the clock hit double zeroes, the Herders had a 16–6 win, their second win of the season. Before the opening kickoff, the Herders were forced to make changes to their lineup. According to head coach Ryan Collier, quarterback Jonah Young was injured during the pregame routine, leading the team to scramble and find a backup quarterback.
Starting out under center for the first time was Adam Bearfield. Bearfield did not throw a pass in the game, but neither did Dawson Blaylock, who came in at quarterback midway through the first half.
The first quarter of the game was scoreless thanks to stout defense by the Herders. The Glenrock offense turned over the ball three times in the opening quarter, twice on fumbles by Blaylock and one from running back Aidan Orozco.
“Our defense played much better tonight, they did some way better things. We committed three turnovers in that first quarter alone and to only give up six points in the game after you give up three turnovers in one quarter — I mean, that’s a big deal,” Collier said.
He credited coaches Donnie Stewart and Carl Federer for getting the defense ready and dominating on Friday night. The first scores of the day came one after the other in the second quarter. A four-yard rushing touchdown by Kemmerer quarterback Dawson Schramm gave them a 6–0 lead. The extra point attempt for the Rangers was blocked by Pittsley.
Kemmerer was unable to hold onto the lead for even a single play. Orozco fielded the kickoff at the 32-yard line, cutting up the middle of the field and sprinting all the way to the endzone for a touchdown, the first return touchdown of the year for the Herders. Blaylock worked his way in for the two-point conversion, giving his team an 8–6 lead.
That score carried on through halftime and late into the fourth quarter. Pittsley’s stop deep in Glenrock territory not only gave the Herders the ball back — it allowed for the game-sealing score. Running back Kade Guenther first took the handoff 11 yards for a first down. The next play was another run by Guenther, this time with him bouncing to the left side and hustling 81 yards down the field for a touchdown. He added the two-point conversion and, after one more unsuccessful drive by the Rangers, the game was won.
“Kade all of a sudden stepped up and made a couple really big plays for us. He had the long run and he made the nice tackles on the kickoff reverse they had set up really well,” Collier said.
Four players picked up rushing yards for the Herders, with Guenther leading the team, picking up 137 yards on nine carries. Blaylock ran 21 times for 78 yards, Orozco ran five times for 20 yards and Bearfield picked up six yards on his only carry.
Defensively, it was senior linebacker Cade Griffits flying around the field. Griffitts ended his night with 10 assisted tackles, three solo tackles and two pass breakups, including the last pass of the game. Gunther added seven assisted tackles and five solo for the Herders. The only other pass breakup for Glenrock came off the hands of Blaylock, who contributed six assisted tackles and three solo.
Brody Cathcart also recorded seven assisted tackles for Glenrock. The only two tackles for loss in the game were recorded by Orozco and Luke Raney. Next up for the Herders is their home finale against the Thermopolis Bobcats. Before the game, they will be honoring the team’s seniors.
“Everybody who came before me, all the seniors last year, everyone before that who taught me what it means to be purple, my older brother who played way back then taught me how to be purple, the coaches every step of the way — I’m just happy to be part of the purple” Pittsley said.
Kickoff for the game will be at 7 p.m. The following week will be the season finale, a road matchup with Moorcroft High School.


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