Rocky falls 42-20 in exhibition game

Ryan Fitzmaurice
The Rocky Mountain football team found themselves face to face with a Cody sophomores team ready to stick it to them in a 42-20 defeat Thursday, October 12.

The week counts as a win regardless, with St. Stephen’s forfeiting their scheduled game against the Grizz this week. The team now stands at a record of 5-2. 

The Grizz have a fearsome road ahead as they close out the season. 

This next week the Grizz take on Wind River to close out the regular season, who are undefeated in conference play. Afterwards the embattled young team is projected to face the currently undefeated Lingle in the first round of the playoffs.

The good news for the exhibition game against the Cody sophomores is that the game was far more competitive than it looked. The bad news is that the team still loss by 22 points.

The teams agreed that when Rocky had offensive possession, the teams would play nine-man football, and when Cody had possession, 11 would take the field for each team.

The contest was also notable for how shorthanded Rocky Mountain was during the contest. 

Juan Rodriguez, Triffen Jolley, Tucker Jackson and Brenner Moore were all rested for the exhibition game. The move gave players who have not seen as much field time this year the opportunity to gain experience and perform.

“We got a lot of players a lot of playing time,” coach Jessee Wilson said. “Boston Stebner comes in there. Hudson (May) comes in there. (Coby) Wachob comes in and plays the whole game. A lot of those players who haven’t seen as many reps had to step up and play.”

Even with a less experienced batch of players, the stats don’t read like the score does. Rocky Mountain advanced 189 yards through the air in the contest and 182 yards on the ground, equaling out to nearly 400 yards of offense. 

“Quarterback completes 60 percent of his throws. Running back runs for 180 yards. If I were to read that statline to you, you’d probably think, in a high school football game, that we won the game,” Wilson said.

But, the turnover bug hit the Grizz hard against the Cody squad. Lafe Files threw four interceptions in the game, and May lost a fumble, negating any chance the Grizz had to keep pace with Cody. 

“We don’t get to prepare or watch film. Usually when we come into a game we have a good understanding of what we are going to see. Cody did a good job of mixing things up, and that led to some missed opportunities,” Wilson said.  “When you have a young team and a new quarterback, that mental preparation is crucial.”

Cody came out fast, both on the scoreboard and on the field. After Cody’s first two drives, they had a two-touchdown lead. Rocky had lost a fumble and an interception. At the beginning of the second quarter, Cody was up 20-0. Midway through the second, Cody had built a 26-0 advantage. 

“One thing that caught us off guard, I know Cody likes to go fast in varsity, but I was not expecting their sophomore team to go and run hurry up,” Wilson said.  “Especially when you’re playing an 11-man defense, we’re playing a defense we don’t usually run, and then they’re running hurry up on us. It made things pretty hairy on defense.”

Wilson said that fast tempo worked just as Cody intended. Rocky, shorthanded and wrangling with a new defensive system, couldn’t have been more susceptible.

“We played 12 kids for the entire game, and adding hurry up on top of that, our players were a little gassed,” Wilson said. “If anything, it was good conditioning.”

Jacob Bischoff was the first Grizz to get on the board, taking a 25-yard pass to the end zone to bring Rocky to within 26-6. 

Cody’s next drive ended with a Bischoff interception. That set Files up to find Bischoff for a 40-yard touchdown grab, bringing the score to 26-12. 

A pick-six by Cody ended any ambitions of a comeback for the Grizz early in the third quarter, but the Rocky offense did find the end zone one more time in the game. May ran the ball in from two yards out to give Rocky 20 points on the scoreboard, with a successful two-point conversion tacked on. 

“Seeing what Hudson has had to fight through recently, all the injuries he’s had to endure, this was a great moment for him,” Wilson said.

Overall, Wilson said, the team is beginning to find the dynamism and balance he is looking for it to find. 

“Honestly, man, everything was working and that’s what sucks. We were moving the ball great. It just all ended in turnovers,” Wilson said. “That’s what killed us in that game. We moved the ball really well on offense, and after we shored up our defense, they weren’t moving the ball so well. We just had four interceptions and a fumble. We can put great drives together. We can move the ball on anyone. The last step is just finishing the drives. We need to get points on the board.”

Files threw 18 for 31 for 189 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions. 

Wil Loyning rushed 25 times for 123 yards.

Bischoff caught the ball four times for 74 yards and two touchdowns. Clayton Thompson had four receptions for 40 yards.

Defensively, Cody Wachob led the charge with 21 defensive points, recording five assisted tackles, four unassisted tackles and a forced fumble that led to a fumble recovery. 

Loyning had six unassisted tackles and four assisted tackles. 

Thompson recorded one assisted tackled, six unassisted tackles and three tackles for a loss.

Tayt Beall had four assisted tackles, three unassisted tackles, three tackles for a loss and three sacks. 

Wilson also shouted out freshman Skyler Tippetts for recording four tackles in the contest.

Rocky Mountain will hit home field for the last time Thursday at 5:30 p.m. against Wind River.

“We’re attacking this game just like any game. We’re going to try and take away what they do best and try to capitalize on what they give us defensively,” Wilson said. “They play a ton of man coverage on defense, so we will look to utilize that in the run game. We can create space that way. Hitting our easy throws is really important, too. They are big up front so we want to stretch them out a bit. We need to run underneath them or attack the edges and go around them.

“As far as defense goes, they have some dynamic guys,” Wilson continued. “We have to look to limit them. The big key is that we want to limit their explosive plays, get a couple ourselves, get some momentum and carry that momentum into Lingle next week.”