Rocky Mountain opens season with 52-0 victory

By Ryan Fitzmaurice

The Rocky Mountain 2020 football campaign began in earnest Friday, with the Grizzlies claiming a forceful 52-0 victory against the Wright Panthers. 

 It was a dominant showcase of both offense and defense. Rocky accumulated 359 yards of offense in the game. Wright would only accumulate 58. The Grizz were only forced to punt twice the entire game. 

“It was a good effort,” head coach Richard Despain said. “There was a lot of good things to build on. It is so exciting to begin a season like this and be out here playing again.”

The team has proven itself to be both bigger and tougher than they were in year’s past.

“We did see some benefits of some of these kids who have been in the weight room,” Despain said. 

The Rocky Mountain Grizzlies and the end zone were well acquainted for the entire game.  It started in the first quarter with senior receiver Dawson May catching a nine-yard pass from senior quarterback Zane Horrocks to put the Grizz up 7-0. The Grizz wasted no time finding the end zone again, with senior Tyler Banks finding a hole in the Wright defense to burst out for a 12-yard touchdown run.

A second successful extra point by senior Austin Haslem gave the Grizz a 14-0 lead after one quarter.

In the second quarter, Rocky Mountain exploded for 23 points. Junior Kendrick Beckman began the quarter by ending Wright’s quarter-opening possession with a fearsome hit on their quarterback, forcing a fumble which he also  recovered.

“That was a clean, good hit, too,” Despain said, “a really good tackle.”

The Grizz took advantage of the short field with Banks again finding daylight for a 15-yard scramble to the end zone. Austin Haslem hit another extra point through the uprights, making the score 21-0.

After forcing a three and out from the Panthers, the Grizzlies found the ball again, and it was more of the same. This time, quarterback Horrocks got it done himself, finding a gap in the Wright defense and running it in from 46 yards. 

With the team’s long-snapper Tyson Christiansen forced out of the game on a previous play  due to a knee injury, the Grizz found themselves going for two. They didn’t have any problem with that either, with senior Trace Moss running in the two-point conversion. 

For good measure, the Grizz would find the en zone one more time in the first half. Horrocks ran the ball in from one yard out. The Grizz attempted the PAT, but upon fumbling the snap, Haslem just ran it in instead. 

The Grizz were up 37-0 at half.

Due to considerations due to COVID-19, Rocky Mountain held senior night this week for their sports programs. Going into half, Despain said the Grizz were playing a game indicative of how great a class the seniors were. 

“We were excited to be having this kind of game on senior night,” Despain said. “It was great to have a chance to recognize these seniors.” 

The second half was a more tentative affair, but the Grizz would find the end zone twice more. Horrocks would run the ball in one more time in the third quarter, dropping back to pass before deciding to tuck the ball in and run for the pylons. Horrocks would also run in the two point conversion.

Finally, Wright found senior running back Tonka Lytle impossible to bring down in the fourth, as he evaded the Panther defense all the way down the field in a 46-yard touchdown. Haslem would again find the uprights for an extra point, as the Grizz  went up at 52-0.

Wright found most of its yards in the final possession of the game. With the backup defense in, Wright drove all the way to within ten yards of the Grizzlies’ end zone, but they would be unable to find it before the clock ran out. 

“Our team has goals,” Despain said. “Not giving up points is one of their goals. We had some subs in, but that’s still their goal. Some young guys had some good plays, (sophomore) Jackson Hanusa had a tackle for a loss. Dawson May had a real nice tackle on the sideline. I’m proud of how they finished. Young guys supporting old guys, old guys supporting young guys.”

There won’t be much time for the team to rest on their laurels. The Grizz will be away next Friday against Shoshoni in a 3:30 p.m. matchup in a game that’s expected to have playoff implications. 

It might be only week two, but the pressure is already on.

“Talk about being thrown in the fire. This one has a lot riding on it for both of us,” Despain said. “They are younger, they have some athletes they’re going to be ready. We’ll have to play physical. We’ll have to be disciplined. If we let up, they’re going to score.”

Christiansen is questionable for whether he’ll be able to return for the game, Despain said.

“I mean, he’ll donate a kidney if that means he can play,” Despain said. “But we’re going to make sure he can get in there and play without getting hurt. We’re proceeding as if he won’t be available.”


In last week’s issue, the Lovell Chronicle failed to name Jess Wambeke as being among Rocky Mountain’s seniors. Expected to be returning to the field from an injury as soon as next week, Despain said Wambeke is an exciting athlete that gives Rocky’s offense another valuable weapon. 

“Wambeke is a good kid and we’re excited to have him back. A lot of people know of his athleticism from the basketball floor. He’s an athlete and he brings those same skills to the football field,” Despain said. “He makes us deeper and more dangerous at receiver and defensive back.”