GREYBULL-- The No. 3E Wheatland High School football team got off to a lightning fast start against No. 2W Greybull High School on Friday night in Greybull by scoring on its first play from scrimmage in the WHSAA 2A Football State Championship quarterfinals, but the hard-hitting Buffaloes’ defense was able to slow down the top-ranked Bulldogs’ offense.
Greybull (5-4) was able to jump out to a 14-7 lead early in the game, but Wheatland (6-3) rallied behind senior quarterback Colton Caves and his 288 passing yards to come back and earn a 21-14 underdog win on the road to continue its hopeful march to Laramie and the 2A state championship game.
“We controlled the game for the most part, even when we were down,” Wheatland coach Cody Bohlander said. “We kept our cool as a team. We could go down and drive. We just kept nickel-and-diming them and taking the yards that we could get. We told the kids if they were to make a big catch to just go down and take the positive yardage. It worked out for us in the end.”
Bohlander said the Bulldogs started the game slowly, despite scoring the early touchdown.
“We came out flat offensively,” he said. “We opened up for the touchdown on the first play of the game, which was nice, but we struggled after that.”
Greybull was the most physical team Wheatland has seen this year, according to Bohlander. The Buffaloes delivered some blows like the Bulldogs haven’t seen this season, but Buhlander said he was proud of how his team responded.
“Greybull gave it their best effort,” he said. “Their kids were physical and they came to play. They had some kids that were headhunting and delivering shots that our kids haven’t seen all season. Our physicality was matched and that was kind of an eye-opener for some of them.”
Senior Dylan Pearson was the leading receiver for Wheatland with 89 yards.
“He had a big game,” Bohlander said. “He had two catches called back that were tight sideline catches. Either you get it or you don’t, and it’s a tough call since we don’t have instant replay.”
The Wheatland defensive was impressive all night, Bohlander said. The Bulldogs only allowed 150 yards of total offence. Senior Daniel Hutchins led the way for his team with 19 defensive points.
“Overall our team played really well as a whole,” Bohlander said. “We had a lot of defensive players play well. Our defense is fast moving and there isn’t just one guy that dominates.”
This week, Wheatland will travel north to take on No. 1E Buffalo High School (8-1). The Bison took advantage of three Bulldog turnovers to earn a 24-14 win on Oct. 5, but Bohlander said his team learned a lot during that game and has matured in the weeks since.
“That game was the turning point of the season for us,” he said. “Our physicality was by far the best and that has carried on throughout the season. That is what we want to keep the kids focused on - playing physical and staying intense.”