TORRINGTON – Torrington and Lovell have never met on the football in their program’s history. That stat will change on Friday evening when the ball is kicked at 6 p.m. at Wiseman Field with a trip to Laramie and the Class 2A state championship game on the line.
The Bulldogs will be making the 376-mile drive across the state with an 8-2 record.
Lovell comes into Friday’s game ridding a six-game winning streak after starting the season 2-2.
The Bulldogs lost in week one to Tongue River 28-6 and then again in week four to Class 2As lone undefeated team of the Lyman Eagles 34-15.
Since the loss to the defending 2A state champions, Lovell has given up two touchdowns in one game. In the other five, the Bulldogs surrendered no more than one touchdown in any game.
During the stretch, Lovell outscored its opponents 197-47, including dropping 51 points on Thermopolis and 55 on Kemmerer.
Big, strong and physical are the words THS coach Russell Stienmetz used to describe the Bulldogs, knowing they will face a heavy dose of their running game.
Lovell brings the top rushing game in Class 2A to Torrington, averaging 256.6 yards per game. The total is more than 20 yards better than the second-best team in the state – Lyman.
“They will come right at you with the run game,” Stienmetz said. “We’ll for sure see a big dose of the run game. We’ll need our kids to step up to be able to stop it.”
It was an area which the Blazers had their struggles with last week against Cokeville.
“We need to get our eyes right and have better execution,” Stienmetz said. “We need to get to the ball and secure the tackle. We had several missed tackles Friday night in the secondary and even at the line of scrimmage. We need to clean those up.”
On the other side of the ball, Lovell plays with two safeties and Stienmetz said they will sometimes bring them down.
Stienmetz said they have multiple options offensively against that style of defense.
“It will all depend on what they are in and it will dictate what we do,” he said. “A lot of teams have gone up tempo with them to wear these big guys out.”
He also said, using the team’s speed to go vertically will also be on the table.
Lovell’s defense gives up the fourth fewest yards in Class 2A at only 223.9 yards per game, while Torrington’s offense averages 322.9 yards per game.
If the Blazers want to return to their fourth state title game in five years, one word comes Stienmetz’s mind – execution.
“We have to execute better on offense, clean up our missed assignments and getting to and securing the tackle,” he said.