By Erick Starkey
LARAMIE – Although the Torrington Trailblazers led in time of possession, plays and yards, two of Cody’s three scoring plays combined for 175 yards in the 3A State Championship game Friday in Laramie, resulting in a 20-0 loss for the Blazers.
“It was one of those games where I don’t think the score was indicative of how well we played,” Lenhardt said. “When you look at the game, it came down to them making a few plays and we couldn’t make any.”
Torrington’s offense lived on the field for the opening frame, holding the ball for 10:20. The Blazers’ opening drive went 13 plays but stalled out and resulted in a punt. Cody went 3-and-out, giving the ball back to Torrington. The Blazers marched the ball down the field again, putting together an 11-play drive that ended in a turnover on downs.
The Broncs offense started clicking into the second quarter, taking the ball within the Blazer 10-yard line but Josh Posten came up with an interception that he returned for 21 yards, setting the Blazers up at their 29-yard line. Torrington punted on their next drive to give Cody the ball at their 35-yard line.
Seven plays, including a 35-yard pass downfield, later and Cody ended up in the end zone on a 6-yard run around the edge by Charlie Beaudrie, giving the Broncs a 7-0 advantage with 4:01 remaining before halftime.
The Blazers seemed poised for an immediate rebound, taking the ball down the field on a 15-play drive. With less than a minute to go, Torrington went for a field goal, but it just missed the uprights, keeping the score at 7-0 heading into intermission.
“Cody plays tough. You just can’t make mistakes against a good team like that,” senior lineman Jake Wamboldt said. “If you get behind the sticks, you can’t really come back from that. It’s hard with a team that good.”
Cody received the kickoff in the second half, but they were pinned at their own 7. A defensive face mask moved the ball out for the Broncs, but a sack by Josh Kingsley put Cody on their own 21. On the next play, Jared Grenz hauled in a short pass from Jordan Wasia and broke two tackles on his way to a 79-yard score, giving the Broncs a 14-0 lead less than three minutes into the third frame.
“I can’t be more excited for how these kids played. We never lost hope,” Lenhardt said. “It just didn’t work out. Give the kids some credit. They really worked hard.”
Neither team could gain any traction for the next four drives, ending in three punts and a turnover on downs. With 1:18 to go in the third, Torrington took over on their own 7-yard line after a Cody punt. The Blazers began to move the ball down the field, staying on the field for 20 plays, including six first downs. A sack on fourth down ended the Blazer drive and turned the ball over. Cody went 3-and-out on their next possession, setting Torrington up with 4:36 remaining on their own 36.
“Everybody thought we were still in it and kept fighting until the end,” Wamboldt said. “We just have to find a way to finish drives.”
Torrington again cruised down the field, taking the ball into the red zone. On the 10th play of the drive, Beaudrie again found his way into the scoring column, coming up with an interception and returning it 96 yards for the score. The missed point-after-attempt gave Cody a 20-0 lead with 2:27 to go.
“Turnovers and explosive plays – teams that do that well typically win,” Lenhardt said.
Torrington quarterback Breyden Bivens was injured on the pick-six, so Casey Britton was thrust into action on the final Torrington drive. The Blazers turned the ball over on downs and Cody kneeled the clock away to seal the 20-0 win.
“It’s not the outcome we were looking for,” Wamboldt said. “It’s a tough loss and not the way I wanted to end my senior season with all my buddies, but you can’t control everything. I had a good time playing the season and built bonds that will last forever.”
The Blazers dominated many of the offensive categories. They recorded 22 first downs to Cody’s nine and held the ball for 31:08, while the Broncs had the ball for 16:52. Torrington ran 82 offense plays to Cody’s 39. The Blazers outgained their opponents 344-261.
Bryan Lemmon had a solid day in the running game, tallying 128 yards on 25 carries. Bivens chipped in 43 yards on 14 carries, while Posten toted the rock eight times for 39 yards.
Bivens went 21-for-32 in the contest, racking up 153 yards in the passing game. Nathan Stitt was his favorite target, hauling in eight catches for 75 yards. Cade Schwartzkopf had 40 yards on five receptions, while Posten had 18 yards on three catches. Lemmon, Bo Moorehouse and Ryan Johnson combined for 20 yards on five receptions.
On the defensive side of the ball, Lemmon always found himself around the action, finishing the game with eight solo tackles, an assisted tackle, a sack and a tackle-for-loss. Wamboldt recorded four solo tackles and two assisted tackles, while rounding out his stat line with a tackle-for-loss. Kingsley always seemed to be behind the line of scrimmage, tallying a sack and two tackles-for-loss, along with four solo and one assisted tackle. Stitt had three tackles, a tackle-for-loss and forced a fumble, but the Blazers were unable to recover the ball.
Torrington fans outnumbered Cody fans and according to Lenhardt, Torrington had more fans than both schools competing in the 4A title game.
“It was loud. What a cool atmosphere for our kids and team,” Lenhardt said. “Obviously you don’t want to lose, but when you take a step back and look at it, it was a great experience.”
The loss ends the Blazers’ season, giving them a 9-2 record. It was their first time reaching the state title game since 1996. The last time Torrington posted nine wins in a season was in 2015 when they went 9-1.
“I think Torrington is going to be one to watch out for,” Wamboldt said. “There are great coaches and there is a good mentality around – definitely a team to watch out for.”
“Our record over the last four years is 31-10. With us being such a small school in 3A, we are doing a great job,” Lenhardt said. “Hopefully, we can be competitive year in and year out. If that means a trip to War Memorial every year great, but if not, we are still going to do the best we can.”