WHEATLAND – A lighting malfunction in the third quarter of Friday’s Varsity football game in Wheatland left everyone in the stadium in the dark momentarily. Perhaps it was prophetic in that Wheatland was punching out Rawlin’s lights on the field.
Wheatland’s high-powered shotgun offense struck early and often against a Rawlins team that had no answers for the duo of quarterback Kade Preuit and wide receiver Jake Hicks who are both only juniors. Rawlins gets to see them again. I’m just sayin’.
Preuit ended up throwing for three touchdowns and was 12-23 for 241 yards passing.
“I’m not surprised,” said Preuit of his partner in crime, Hicks. “He’s an just an all-around good player and they couldn’t stop the slant routes.”
Hicks, who remained humble in the field general’s comments said, “We studied all week and we knew that slant and underneath timed slant and go up would work.”
Hicks ended up with eight receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns.
Perhaps it’s the way these two have grown up together, but they are instinctive as to knowing where the other one is going to be and what the other one is thinking. Like identical twin brothers from a different mother.
They both realize there is a long way to go, but Preuit says that the plan is taking this potent offense and bruising defense to state.
As to the subject of penalties which cost the Bulldogs three touchdowns, Hicks had an answer for that too.
“We were just playing too aggressive,” he said. “And that’s OK.
When the wide receivers did get bottled up, which was pretty much, not often, the running game was on point with Adam Suko who was a one-man wrecking crew that shed tacklers like a dog shedding his winter coat in June. Suko who rushed 16 times for 124 yards had two rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown.
The trifecta was complete when the defense came out holding Rawlins to just 15 yards total offense in the first half. The middle of the defensive line led by 6’5” 300 lb. junior, Mariano Santellano was relentless in their pursuit of the quarterback and the penetrating linebackers were sniffing out and putting down any threat on the ground.
The Rawlins offense could not get into its rhythm as the rush was so fierce that there was no time to set up or take good solid looks downfield. Only twice did the Outlaws catch the Bulldogs off guard, one being a quarterback keeper up the middle that went for over 40 yards and one pass play that went for 50 yards. Eliminating those two stats from the Rawlins total exposes a team that couldn’t account for 100 yards of total offense in four quarters.
Senior Wrangler Lockman put forth an outstanding effort as he was in the face of the enemy all night long and led the defense with two tackles for a loss of yardage, two sacks, a blocked punt which was recovered by Devin Webber in the endzone for a touchdown.
That front four for Wheatland was responsible for setting a tempo that the Rawlins offense couldn’t keep up with. It was evident that Rawlins was rattled in having to quickly learn a hurry-up offense.
Suko also was a bulldog on defense in on six tackles and had three solo takedowns.
Another defensive player that appeared to clone himself as he seemed to be in multiple spots at one time was Ryland Petroski who ended the night with one assisted tackle, two unassisted tackles and two tackles for a loss.
The young guns who were in a rebuilding year in 2019 are still relatively young in age, but are gaining age through their experience. Third year Varsity coach Cody Bohlander said that the team that went 4-5 and made it to the playoffs last year are still enjoying their youth.
“We were super young last year,” Bohlander said. “We start two seniors on both sides of the ball which is really nice for us and we’ve got a lot of talent which is exciting for our program. We’re still building and trying to do the things we do. Penalties shot us in the foot, but we kind of learn and build off that.”
The only threat Rawlins really had was a second half opening kickoff return that caught the Bulldogs on the inside of the field not having the chance to cut off the outside lane.
“We talked at halftime that we were up 22-0 and not to get a big head and come out lackadaisical and that’s exactly what happened,” Bohlander said. “We came out just flat, not doing our jobs like we talked about. Our goals are to play smart, play hard and play fast and the smartness was lacking in that area.”
Wheatland ended up with 481 yards of total offense, 241 passing 163 rushing and 77 return yards. Rawlins had 179 yds of total offense, 36 yds rushing, 12 yds passing and 131 return yards.
The Bulldogs are home again against 2A Kemmerer from the other side of the state.