KEMMERER – The 2022 high school fall football season opened with the Big Piney High School Punchers squaring off against former 2A foes Cokeville and Kemmerer at the Kemmerer Jamboree on Friday, Aug. 27.
In contrast to the traditional scrimmage, the jamboree setup rotated teams, providing the Punchers an opportunity to run two offensives against both Kemmerer and Cokeville. Big Piney then switched to defense, with two attempts to prevent its opponents from reaching the end zone.
Officials did not tally points. If a team made a touchdown, it was allowed to restart the offensive at the 20- or 40-yard line.
The Punchers fielded a 9-man offense and 11-man defense against both Kemmerer and Cokeville, said Head Coach Jeromy Moffat.
Although the jamboree format was “a little different” than a regular scrimmage, the Punchers hit the gridiron with determination, demonstrated tight teamwork and a readiness to make some noise.
Overall, coaches were pleased with the effort.
“We did not show too much of our playbook and kept it pretty vanilla, but as coaches, we were happy with how we were able to run the ball and complete some passes for good gains,” Moffat said.
Big Piney played its first offensive action against the Kemmerer Rangers. The Punchers advanced from their 40-yard line, swept across midfield and struck deep into Ranger territory. A pass play landed Big Piney on Kemmerer’s 20-yard line before the session ended.
Facing off against Cokeville next, Big Piney smashed through the Panthers’ defense, completing multiple passes and powerful runs to reach the end zone twice.
Despite early gains in its second offensive against Kemmerer, the Ranger defense managed to hold the line and keep the Punchers out of the end zone.
Big Piney regrouped for offensive number two against the Panthers. Starting at Cokeville’s 20-yard line, the Big Piney offense rapidly ate up the yards with the Puncher quarterback running the ball into the end zone.
Junior Champ Snively saw his first action as Big Piney’s quarterback at the jamboree.
“I thought Champ handled things well,” said Moffat. “I believe he went five for five with a touchdown. I’ve really challenged him early this season to step up as a varsity quarterback and a vocal leader. Playing quarterback is a process, and I felt he took a few steps in the right direction Friday.”
The offensive line held its own and executed the playbook well during each session, Moffat added.
“Up front, our big fellas – Zach Murphy, Thomas Howard, Roger Young and Brandon Jones – did well,” he said. “We have experimented with different lineups with them and I feel they are developing a good chemistry up front. We have coached them to be a physical group and to block downhill and we saw some lanes really open up for our backs.”
The “skill positions” also made an impression with strong performances.
“Caden Clifford, Reuben Stoutenburg, Hunter Fisher and Karsyn Gurr all showed some good vision and speed on the edges and had some tough runs inside,” Moffat said.
The Punchers showed no mercy against Cokeville during their first session on the defensive side of the field. The Panthers struggled to make gains against Big Piney’s unbreakable wall. The Punchers pulled off a quarterback sack and recovered a fumble.
Kemmerer posed a tougher challenge defensively. Starting from their 20-yard line, the Rangers at first met tough resistance from the Punchers before finding an opening into the end zone.
On its second attempt, Cokeville advanced across midfield before the Big Piney defense tightened up and shut down the Panthers’ attempt to reach the goal line.
The Rangers fielded a powerful offense on their second drive, closing in on the end zone even though Big Piney struck a few punches.
The Punchers initially took advantage of running familiar 11-man defensive strategies against Kemmerer and Cokeville.
“We knew our opponents’ tendencies on offense and we had some good plays up front and with our linebackers,” Moffat explained. “Our first few sessions, I thought our defense played well, flowed to the ball and tackled as a team. We recovered a few fumbles and had some tackles for loss. As the session went on, our tackling mechanics broke down a little.”
The jamboree setup gave the coaching staff opportunities to sub in younger players, giving everyone on the team the chance to showcase their skills.
“I really liked this jamboree because all of our kids were able to get some time on the field,” Moffat said. “Not having a JV team is hard for some of the younger kids. They played hard and did some things well. We tell them every day they are an injury away from being a varsity starter.”
The action heats up for the Punchers this week as they hit the road for the first official 9-man game against 1A East rival Niobrara County at Lusk on Friday, Sept. 2.
“As far as preparing for Lusk, we will show a little more offensively,” Moffat said. “I think with our speed, we will have some opportunities for big plays. Defensively, from what I have seen on film, Lusk is a running team. We coach the kids to play with a chip on their shoulder defensively and stopping a running team is just as much a mental challenge as it is physical. We are excited about getting the season started – let the fun begin!”