YODER – The Southeast High School football team rolled into the Class 1A 9-Man division state championship game with a 44-18 victory over the Shoshoni Wranglers on Friday evening at Teeters Memorial Field in Yoder.
“We keep plugging along one game at a time,” Cyclone coach Mark Bullington said. “I thought our kids played really well. We didn’t turn the ball over. Defense was outstanding. Offensively, we had a few miscues, but that’s expected. They were a pretty good football team. Outside of the Rocky (Mountain) game, they dominated everything else on the west side.”
After teams traded possessions to open the game, the Cyclones were facing a 4th-and-3 when junior running back Cord Herring plowed ahead for a first down to keep the drive alive.
The ensuing play, Herring finished off the drive with a 17-yard touchdown.
The score remained 7-0 until a failed fake punt attempt set up the Cyclones with great field position early in the second quarter.
With 8:47 left in the quarter, Clapper punched in a 2-yard run to make it a two-score game.
“The kids did a great job of answering the bell and did exactly what we wanted them to do,” Bullington said.
The Cyclone defense stood strong on the next Shoshoni drive, forcing another punt. Southeast grinded out 55-yards on seven plays to push the lead to 20-0 with 2:38 remaining in the half.
Shoshoni finally got on the scoreboard in the with under a minute left in the half, but those 30 seconds left on the scoreboard gave the Cyclones enough time to march right back down the field.
The drive started at the Cyclone 35 but stalled at the Shoshoni 17, but kicker Ryan Clapper booted a 34-yard field goal to cap off the half.
Southeast kept the lead growing into the third quarter, chewing up 60 yards and 4 1/2 minutes, before Herring scored his third touchdown of the game.
“The offensive line did a great job. Our defense played well,” Bullington said. “Coach (Shawn) Burkhart had them ready to go. They didn’t do anything different than we had anticipated.”
In the final minute of the third quarter, the Wranglers got back in the end zone on a 37-yard touchdown pass.
Over the final 12 minutes, Southeast got additional scores from senior quarterback Hayden Anderson and Clapper, while Shoshoni closed out the game with a score of its own with a minute left in the Wrangler season.
“They had the (Tryston) Truempler kid at quarterback instead of the (Alex) Mills kid. It made them a better football team, but a lot of times when you have the quarterback, he’s either throwing it or handing it off to someone else,” Bullington said. “When you have your best athlete at quarterback, he better run the ball once in a while.”
The win advances the Cyclones to its first state championship game since 2012 when they defeated the Niobrara County Tigers 40-6 at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie.
This time, Southeast hosts Niobrara County for the state championship at 5 p.m. Friday at Teeters Memorial Field.