Simmons, Guenther lead Herders to big 48-20 opening night win

Cade Guenther

Cade Guenther runs the ball in for one of his two touchdowns in the Herders 48-20 win over Pinedale. Glenrock will travel to Torrington for their week two game. (Joshua Clark/The Glenrock Independent photo)

Joshua Clark,

Fans filled the stands as much as the social distancing guidelines allowed, while the rest spilled to the outside of the bleachers hanging longingly on the fence, waiting for the opening kickoff of the 2020 Herder football season and for their favorite team to show their stuff. They were not disappointed.

Glenrock faced the Pinedale Wranglers Friday evening and took control of the game from the start with their patented double-wing offense. Head coach Ryan Collier called on running backs Dustin Simmons and Cade Guenther early and often. 

Simmons broke a pair of big runs to begin the game, one for 25 yards, then another for 30 yards and the first touchdown of the high-scoring affair.

It was clear from the onset that the Herder offensive line would have their way with the Pinedale defensive line, leaving massive gaps for Simmons and Guenther to exploit. On many of the big plays, the runners wouldn’t get touched until reaching the second and third levels of the defense. 

“The only reason I can run the ball is because of my offensive line,” Simmons admitted after the game. 

The offensive line is one of the most experienced groups on the field and fuels the offense, according to Collier.

“The offensive line did a good job tonight, and they’re getting better,” Collier said. “Most of them were starting last year, so bringing them back this year helps a ton with the camaraderie and teamwork. Understanding who has double teams and who’s going where. I was really pleased with the offensive line tonight.”

The game was out of hand by the end of the first half, but Pinedale made a small comeback in the third, closing the gap to 28-12. 

Glenrock responded with a flurry of explosive plays later in the third and throughout the fourth to take the game 48-20, although that may look closer than the game actually was.  Simmons and Guenther combined for nearly 400 yards on the ground. Simmons put up 245 yards and four touchdowns on just 22 carries for over 11 yards per carry.

Guenther added another 128 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, good for 8.5 yards per carry. 

“They were doing a really good job of understanding where the holes were going to be open at and pushing the right gaps that we were asking them to push,” Collier said “They were running hard, not going down with those single-arm tackles. They were blocking who they had to block, and in our offensive system our wings are just as important as the offensive line on that front. They did a great job for me.”

Guenther and Simmons joined Jonah Young leading the team on the defensive side of the ball as well. The trio were the top three tacklers on the team. Simmons led the team with eight tackles, Young had seven and a half, including a tackle for a loss, and Guenther tallied five tackles while also nabbing a runner in the backfield. 

Although the team secured a dominant win, they know the competition will only get tougher from here, and the coaching staff noticed a lot of things the team needs to clean up on both sides of the ball if they want to continue their early success.  

“We’re still making a lot of mistakes and not understanding our rules completely on the offensive side of the ball,” Collier said. “Defensively, we’re not trusting our reads yet. We have to trust them more and play more downhill. We have some work to do and we have to figure out the little things.

“We’ll get better, we just have to keep working. My coaching staff does a good job of getting my kids prepared, and I’m pretty pleased where we’re at right now.”

The team will face its first challenge with a road game against Torrington, who is new to the 2A conference after being in 3A. Torrington is 1-1 on the season after losing its last game to Douglas, but the Trailblazers are expected to be one of the tougher teams in 2A.

“They’ve perennially been a really good team and are really well coached,” Collier said. “We have to get our stuff together and bring our A-game if we want a chance at beating them.”

Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 11.


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