A valiant effort

Mike Moore photo
Running back Dustin Simmons gives Wheatland cornerback Rodee Brow a last-second stiff-arm as he crosses into the end zone to score during the opening quarter of last Friday’s homecoming game against the Bulldogs.

By: 
Harrison Epstein harrison@glenrockind.com

There was as much support for the Herders as they could possibly ask for. Students, teachers and members of the community piled into the Glenrock High School football field to cheer on their Herders in the team’s Homecoming matchup with Wheatland. Despite the roar from the stands, Glenrock fell in the match 35–34 for their second loss of the season.
“Having the Homecoming game crowd was nice, it was really loud, we appreciated the cheers,” linebacker Cade Griffitts said. “It’s kind of a heartbreaking loss 35–34, but it was nice having them here, having the full stands.”
A back-and-forth affair, the Herders were down seven with just minutes left in the fourth quarter. After driving all the way down the field, Glenrock sat at the 2-yard-line, just over one minute left on the clock. Running back Aiden Orozco waltzed into the end zone for the score.
“I thought that we were doing a pretty good job, we lined up in our offense and marched right down being down a score there knowing we were going to need the 2-point conversion to win there,” head coach Ryan Collier said.
“We punched it in, just needed the two-point and didn’t execute it the way we should.”
Even being able to point to the two-point conversion as the place the game was lost, Collier said that he isn’t confident yet in the team’s ability to consistently hit extra points. He did add that even if they were confident in their kicker, he wouldn’t change his decision to go for the win.
With the two-point conversion unsuccessful, it was just a matter of time before the game was over. Well before the game was on the line, Glenrock had a three-touchdown lead early on. The Herders led 20–0 at the end of the first quarter after touchdown runs from Dawson Blaylock, Kade Guenther and Dustin Simmons.
As dominant as GHS was in the first quarter, Wheatland came back with 19 unanswered points, leaving Glenrock with a 20–19 lead at halftime. During the game, Brody Cathcart was named Homecoming King while his twin sister, volleyball standout Katelyn Cathcart, was named the Homecoming Queen.
In the second half, the teams alternated scores. Wheatland added a touchdown and 2-point conversion in the third quarter, taking their first lead of the night 27–20.
The Bulldogs scored once more in the fourth quarter, as did Glenrock when Guenther picked up his second of the game. At this point, the home team began their final scoring drive of the night — the drive punctuated with Orozco’s score.
Five rushers picked up yards on the ground for the Herders in the game with Simmons leading the way. His 114 yards on 24 carries gave him an average of 6.7 yards per attempt. Blaylock picked up 111 on the ground on 21 carries.
Orozco fought his way for 27 yards on six carries, Young picked up 37 yards on six carries as well and Guenther grabbed 17 on five runs. Overall, Glenrock ran for 306 yards as a team.
“We’re running the ball really well right now. The double wing is doing what it does and we’re averaging right around 280-290 yards a game. We’re doing some good stuff with it, we’ve just got to start executing a little better,” Collier said.
The team also threw two more passes in the game, one interception for Young and an incompletion. In three games, the Herders are yet to complete a pass. Collier is not concerned with the lack of success in the air, saying that the pass plays  they’ve run have come close to working.
Despite a strong game overall, the Herders defenders were unable to keep the Bulldogs out of the end zone. While allowing five touchdowns, the home team recorded four fumbles. Julih Pittsley recovered two fumbles while leading the team with five assisted tackles.
The most well-rounded defensive effort came from Guenther. He picked up one fumble recovery, one pass breakup, three assisted tackles, two unassisted tackles and he combined for one tackle for loss. The tackle for loss was a combination effort between Guenther and Griffitts.
The two linebackers also recovered the other two fumbles by the Bulldogs. The only other tackle for loss came by Blaylock. One point made by Griffitts and Collier was the three dropped interceptions by the defense. Had any one of those been converted, they believe the Herders would have come away with a win.
Cornerback Adam Bearfield did not record a tackle on the night, but made his effort known in other ways. He blocked a kick, the only of the night for either team, and broke up one pass.
Both Simmons and Orozco grabbed a pair of unassisted tackles, as did linebacker Gavin Swanson. In total, there were 13 unassisted tackles completed in front of the purple-clad home crowd.
Acknowledging the team’s youth across the roster, the Herders will spend practice fine tuning the basics and gearing up for Friday night. Griffitts said that the team just needs to continue to overcome the learning curve and get better each and every day.
The next game for the team will be a test for the Herders as they travel to play Buffalo on the road this Friday. Kickoff for the game is slated to begin at 7 p.m.

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