ETHETE – The Big Piney Puncher football team scored a decisive 58-12 victory over conference rival Wyoming Indian High School in Ethete on Friday, Oct. 14.
The win boosted morale as Big Piney heads into its final game of the regular season against Basin’s Riverside High School at Puncher Stadium on Thursday, Oct. 20.
Both the Puncher offense and defense pulled out all the stops against Wyoming Indian in a demonstration of the team’s grit, growth mindset and, above all, its class.
“All in all, this was a solid win,” said Head Coach Jeromy Moffat. “Games like this can be hard sometimes for the kids to play and also to coach. I thought our entire team contributed to this win and I was very pleased. We knew coming into the game that Wyoming Indian has had a tough year. I told the kids before the game to take care of business and get on them early.”
Big Piney dominated the first half. The Puncher offense scored seven touchdowns and an ironclad defense prevented Wyoming Indian from getting anywhere near the end zone.
“Offensively, we felt we had a big advantage with the running game and we did a great job of exposing that,” said Moffat. “Our starting offense and defense did an excellent job making plays with some big runs and an interception return for a touchdown by (senior) Champ Snively on defense.”
Sophomore Caden Clifford opened the game with a bang, rushing 45 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.
The Big Piney defense promptly shut down Wyoming Indian and the Punchers gained possession.
Quarterback Snively handed the ball off to Clifford. Finding an opening in the Wyoming Indian defense, Clifford raced 35 yards into the end zone for his second touchdown.
“We played Caden Clifford pretty sparingly this week, but he made good use of his time on the field, rushing for 128 yards for three touchdowns on only four carries,” Moffat said.
Junior Reuben Stoutenburg “broke some big runs” for the Puncher offense in the first half, including a 98-yard dash into the end zone, Moffat said. Stoutenburg finished the game with 135 yards on five carries for two touchdowns.
Focusing on its running game, the Puncher offense kept passing to a minimum, said Moffat. Snively completed two passes to junior Karsyn Gurr for 45 yards and a touchdown.
A powerful Big Piney defense closed ranks and held Wyoming Indian to only a few yards in the first quarter.
“We had many tackles for a loss,” said Moffat. “The kids did their jobs and executed what we wanted them to do out of our different defensive fronts we have been working on. I thought our front four dominated the game defensively. Our defensive backs and backers were involved in a lot of pass coverage this week.”
In the second half, the Big Piney coaching staff pulled out its starters, allowing second-string players the opportunity to gain varsity experience for two quarters, Moffat said.
“It was great to be able to get some of our other kids in for almost a full half of football,” he added. “We saw some good things from our second-team kids offensively and they were able to score with that unit. Defensively, they had a few mistakes on some big plays, but overall, I was very proud of their effort and happy that they could get in.”
Backup quarterback Ben Ferguson, a sophomore, rushed 65 yards and scored a Puncher touchdown in the second half.
The lone freshman on the team, Zeferino Zuniga, stepped into the role of running back for the first time, said Moffat, rushing 62 yards on three carries.
Senior Hampton Jones “did an excellent job pulling out to the edge” on the O-line, Moffat added.
The game against Riverside on Thursday, Oct. 20, features Senior Recognition Night and will be crucial to the Punchers making the playoffs. The team is “looking forward” to the challenge, said Moffat.
“This will be a big game and a must win, or our season is over,” he added. “We have played a lot of big games already this season, and our kids will be prepared and our football team will be ready to go. We need a packed stadium and large crowd Thursday to send these seniors out with a win and help us move into the playoffs.”