For the first time in almost 30 years, the NCHS football team will miss the playoffs four consecutive years. The opportunity was there at Carlstrom Field in Pine Bluffs Friday night for the Tigers to qualify, but could not muster the energy needed to win in the hostile confines. A win (combined with a TR win over Wright), would have given NCHS a berth in the playoffs. That game happened to be about 20 minutes behind the Tiger/Hornet final and the Eagles did their part by winning 26-20.
However, after a solid, scoreless first quarter Lusk continued to move the ball before coughing it up. PB took advantage and senior lineman James Merrifield got a carry into the endzone from four yards out. The PAT was good for a 7-0 Hornet lead.
The score stood for the last five minutes of the half and deep into the third period before Isiah Montanes scored from 15 yards away. The PAT was good and after three, it was 14-0 PB. The Tigers had yet to roll over and concede but the offense continued to struggle. When Brian Steger busted through the line for a 19 yard TD run, and the ensuing PAT went through- it was too much to overcome for NCHS in the 21-0 defeat.
The Tigers had one last gasp at a trip to Cokeville for the quarterfinals as Tiger head Coach Ryan Nelson, Wright’s Larry Yearadi and TR’s Steve Hanson met in Gillette for a three-way coin flip Saturday morning. It took five tosses before Wright earned the honor to visit remote Lincoln County to face the 8-0 #2 Panthers. The bitter pill NCHS must swallow and dwell on is knowing a 4-4 record (2-4 conference) isn’t good enough in a poorly devised 1A 11 man setup with two very unbalanced conferences. While Big Horn, Upton-Sundance and PB graduate a dozen seniors each, NCHS loses just three from the roster and has a chance improve immensely.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
NCHS 0 0 0 0 0
PBHS 0 7 7 7 21
NCHS: Passing- 2 comp/4 atts, 25 yds. Rushing- 41 atts/118 yds. Receiving- 2 catches/25 yds. First downs- 7. 1 Fumble/1 lost. 2 penalties/ 10 yds.
NCHS PLAYER STATS: Passing- Wyatt Stauffer 2/4, 25 yds. Rushing- Drake Lamp 22 atts/82 yds; Damien Molzahn 12/29; James Stone 5/23. Receiving- Ryan Bruegger 2 catches/25 yds. Defensive points- Da. Molzahn 21; Stone 15; Dylan Molzahn 13; Teagan Tschacher 11; Jacob Miller 10; Jasper Caldera 9; Lamp 8; Aric Eaton 6; Stauffer 5; Tanner Carpenter 5; Dmitri Richards 5; Declan Jensen 4; Riley Blackburn 3; Bruegger 1.