Green River Star -

By Pete Rust
Contributor 

1 down, 2 to go for state title

 

November 1, 2017

David Martin

Candon Croft plows through a Douglas defender during a touchdown attempt Friday night.

By PETE RUST

Contributor

The Wolves football team advanced to the semi-finals of the State 3A Football Playoffs with a convincing 28-7 win over the always tough Douglas Bearcats.

After last weeks regular season ending game loss to No. 1 Star Valley, the Wolves came out looking confident from the start, returning to their winning ways by dominating play on both sides of the ball.

The Wolves' offense took control right away, running more than 9 minutes off the clock in an 11-play drive that ended with the division's top rated passer, senior Chance Hofer, making the score off of a two-yard run.

Hofer completed passes to fellow seniors Gavin Heiser and Devin Love on the drive, with senior Candon Croft carrying the ball three times and freshman James King helping out with one carry on the drive. Hofer, in addition to his two pass completions, ran the ball four times for 38 yards. Eric Gwaltney, who has been solid all season, succeeded with the extra point and the Wolves were up 7-0.

The Wolves were just as successful on defense as the Wolves' offense, led by the division's No. 1 ranked defensive player, Chance Anderson, was again all over the field making tackles. Douglas gained 2 yards on their first offensive possession and were three and out when good pressure caused a four-yard punt from Douglas. The Wolves took over after excellent defense by Justin Rubalcaba, Croft, Anderson, Cole White and Anthony Mitchell, among others.

On the first play, Hofer's pass was deflected and intercepted, but great team defense prevailed once more and Douglas was once again three plays and out and they had to punt. The Wolves' offense ran six plays, including a 15-yard run by Hofer and a 9-yard pass completion from Hofer to junior Anthony Johnson, to end a dominating start to the game, holding Douglas to the minimum six plays and less than 5 yards total offense.

When the second quarter began, the Wolves ran eight more plays in the drive before taking a 14-0 lead with big plays in the drive consisting of a 23-yard pass completion and Love down the sideline in front of the Douglas bench. He later added another big catch on the drive and a third catch by Johnson on the sidelines. Hofer took the ball in a final dive into the end zone with Gwaltney's kick putting the Wolves up 14-0 early.

The Wolves profited from some excellent blocking and pass protection from their offensive line. The Wolves dominated time of possession for the rest of the first half and played a swarming team defense. Mitchell intercepted a pass and made a nice return of 15 yards right before half ended, but several incompletions and penalties left the Wolves no opportunities to add to the 14-0 lead. Green River started the second half with Douglas playing tough defense and stopping the Wolves on just four plays. They then started a long drive of their own, which ended in a 12-yard run to close the gap and make it a 14-7 game.

The Wolves wouldn't stand for that and mounted a nine-play scoring drive which included three runs by Croft, an 11-yard run by King and a 12-yard run by Hofer before Hofer connected with White for a big touchdown play of 25 yards, regaining the 14-point lead.

The teams exchanged possessions without scoring, featuring more great defense from the Wolves with junior Dallan Serrano and senior Dakota Wingard coming up with big stops.

In the final quarter, Croft continued to run hard and made some big gains, as did King. Hofer connected with Johnson for 23 yards and Love for 12 yards, resulting in a final touchdown seal a convincing 28-7 victory for the Wolves.

"We were really excited about how our kids played on offense, defense and special teams," head football coach Don Maggi said. "The kids practiced hard all week and studied film diligently."

Maggi said Douglas has a fine program with outstanding coaches and the win was a great accomplishment for the Wolves.

The Wolves will play in a semifinal game on the road against Torrington, a team whom they beat twice at Torrington last year. Maggi said Torrington is a big, physical team.

He said they're well-coached and with only one loss on the year to undefeated Star Valley at Star Valley, the Wolves will have their work cut for them. Maggi said they will have to trust their process and be ready to compete.

 

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