WHEATLAND – The last time the Cowboys and the Steelers appeared on the national stage in a winner-take-all Super Bowl was Jan. 28, 1996. The Cowboys defeated the Steelers by a score of 27-17.
In the Platte County Parks and Recreation version of the annual Super Bowl, the Guernsey Vikings and the Wheatland Chiefs were both eliminated in the semifinal rounds of hard-fought Saturday flag football which made way for an epic championship game that featured the Wheatland Steelers and the Wheatland Cowboys.
The Cowboys, who, like the NFL team they were named after, repeated history with a down-to-the-wire championship game and came away with a 19-12 victory.
Unlike the NFL game which was played the excessive heat of Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, Platte County’s version of the game more resembled the NFL ice bowl played on the frozen tundra of Green Bay, Wisconsin, in 1967.
It certainly wasn’t below zero, but the temps were in the low 40s by halftime and with the Wyoming wind, the chills felt as if it were down into the 20s. Welcome to Wyoming football.
A full day of football culminated on a cloudy sky and drops of rain were beginning to threaten. Fans were huddled in stands and in lawn chairs under heavy blankets, decked out in hats, gloves, and winter coats.
After the Cowboys and Chiefs game which ran longer than expected, a 20-minute break was given to the Cowboys while the Steelers who had defeated the Vikings had been waiting through the last game to see who their opponents would be.
The sunshine and whatever warmth was left, departed midway through the first 20-minute half of the hallowed Platte County flag football Super Bowl and the kids played with the hearts of warriors entangled in a defensive struggle.
The score was dead-locked at the half, 6-6.
The second half was following suit and with three minutes left in the game, each team could only muster one more touchdown each. Heading to the two-minute warning, the score was again deadlocked at 12-12.
Griff Nichols dropped to pass, looking long and finding no receivers opened, he tucked it and ran down the Cowboy sideline toward the north goal and although many hands reached for the flying green flags, he escaped for the touchdown with just 2:31 left in the game.
This would give the Steelers one more shot at tying the game and sending the game into overtime. They mixed up runs and passes and took chunk by chunk of turf until they found themselves with a first and 10 just outside the goal line.
The Cowboys put up a fierce defensive stand, first with Nichols breaking up a pass in the endzone, and then first Maya Connell coming up with a huge stop on third down and Peyton Unrein pulled a final fourth down flag to stop the rally with 15 seconds left on the clock to seal the win.
Steelers coach Alex Fernandez said after the game, “We’ve come a long way from the first of the year when we were kind of all over the place. Cleaned it up a lot.”
The Cowboys who came in as underdogs proved, that on any given Sunday, or in this case Saturday they could be champions.
“It was a great game,” said Cowboys coach Brian Connell. “Kids showed up and played hard all day and they won three games when they only won one during the regular season.”
There were six teams in the league this season and games began back on Sept. 21 where teams played at both Lewis field and also up in Guernsey at Viking stadium.