TORRINGTON – For the third time in a four-year span, the Torrington High School football team will return to the state championship game.
In the two previous trips to the state championship games – 2017 and 2018 – the Blazers made their way to Laramie and War Memorial Stadium, however, due to COVID-19, Torrington will have an opportunity to do something that hasn’t been done since 1996 – host the state championship game.
The game didn’t end well for the Blazers in a 35-0 loss to the Star Valley Braves in 1996, and Torrington looks to reverse the fortune Saturday afternoon at Wiseman Field when the Blazers host the Class 2A No. 1-ranked Lyman Eagles. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.
The Blazers are a year removed from a one-win season and a brand-new set of opponents with the change from Class 3A to 2A.
“I shouldn’t say shocked, but I’m rather shocked by the performance of these players,” second-year coach Russell Stienmetz said. “They’ve come together as a team, and I’m very proud of them. Most importantly, we are fortunate to still be playing football as several states across the nation are not.”
The Eagles come to town having won six straight games. Their only loss of the season came in week four, in a 6-0 loss against Big Piney.
Lyman has wins over out of state foe, Malad, Idaho and Class 3A opponent Rawlins. The Eagles have also shutout Cokeville, edged Mountain View 21-15 and put up 42 points against Big Horn.
Lyman comes into Saturday’s game with a 10-1 record, outscoring their opponents 303-82.
Things start on the defensive side of the ball for the Eagles.
“They have given up very few yards on the ground or on the air,” Stienmetz said. “Their defense is very solid. They are anchored by incredible d-linemen and linebacking core.”
He added they like to sit back in a prevent defense.
“You can’t get behind the sticks and they are going to make you march the ball all the way down the field,” Stienmetz said.
That could create issues for the Blazers, who will be without starting quarterback Beau Bivens after he was injured late in the third quarter against Mountain View last Friday.
Lyman allows only 156.6 yards of offense, including 58 yards per game on the ground and 98.4 yards through the air.
“We are going to have to take what they give us,” Stienmetz said. “We have to be very patient.”
On the other side of the ball, Lyman is a run first team, averaging 303 yards of offense, including 203.4 yards on the ground.
“They have a great running attack,” Stienmetz said. “As soon as you sell out to stop the run, they do have some deep threats they can throw the ball to.”
The Blazers, coming into the game, rank in the top five in both pass and rush defense, giving up 233.1 yards per game.
Despite this game being the team’s third state championship in four years, not many players saw the field in either 2017 or 18 with only one coming to mind of the coach – Rhiley Grubbs.
“Not very many of them played in those because we were so senior heavy especially (in 2018),” Stienmetz said.
However, Torrington is excited and ready to end the state title losing streak which dates back to the 1990 season when they defeated Star Valley 20-6.
“We are excited to be hosting the state championship game,” Stienmetz said. “We are excited for this team, this school, this community. We’ve had great support throughout the entire year.”