Kremmling: Mustang football team finds scrimmage encouraging |

Kremmling: Mustang football team finds scrimmage encouraging

Larry Banman
Sky-Hi Daily News

The West Grand High School Mustang football team found reasons to be encouraged about its upcoming season during last Friday night’s scrimmage with the Basalt Longhorns.

The scheduled game with South Park had to be canceled when the Burros were unable to field enough players who had attended the required number of preseason practices. Fortunately, West Grand was able to schedule a scrimmage with the Longhorns for some preseason work.

In a scrimmage, the teams are not allowed to keep score and the clock is turned off. The coaches usually agree to a certain number of offensive plays per team. The team on offense starts from a designated spot on the field and then attempts to march down the field.

The offense has four plays in which to earn a first down. If they succeed, the drive continues until a touchdown is scored. If the defense prevents a first down, the offense moves back to the designated spot.

In the scrimmage this past Friday, the Mustangs held their own against the Longhorns, which had a size and experience advantage.

Coach Chris Brown said West Grand had six players who had previous varsity experience. In the junior varsity scrimmage, the Mustangs had only two players with high school game experience.

Given that inexperience, the West Grand coaching staff came away from the contest with a good feeling about the direction of the team.

On offense, the Mustangs were able to run the ball with Jake Motz and Connor Widener and quarterback Tim Ritschard was able to pass the ball effectively. Those skill positions appear to be set as well as a wide receiver rotation of Drew Klotz, Fletcher Flanagan, Stetson Sabados and Matt Johnson. Sky Handyside is the tight end for the Mustangs.

Coach Brown said it was good to see Motz run at what appears to be near 100 percent effectiveness. The senior tailback suffered a season-ending knee injury in a game against Meeker last year.

Ritschard connected on a touchdown pass to Klotz and a long pass to Sabados. Motz and Widener were also able to score on touchdown runs.

The Mustangs lined up for one field goal attempt. The kick by Handyside had more than enough distance, but it sailed to the right of the goal post.

“I was happy that we could run the option as well as throw the ball a bit downfield,” Brown said. “We need to continue to work on getting off the ball quicker.”

The Basalt Longhorns were able to pound the ball downfield with a power attack.

“We got shoved around a bit,” coach Brown said, “and we could have tackled better.”

Brown said this year’s Mustangs have the look of a team that can make significant improvement each week. Part of that is due to simply getting more game experience.

In addition, the errors the coaches saw in film review are errors that can be corrected with better technique and practice.

The team showed good toughness and hard work in the scrimmage and has been very coachable in practice, Brown said.

The junior varsity team also showed signs of inexperience, but the young Mustangs gave a good account of themselves. Freshman Cody Wilson and Travis Gore both took snaps at quarterback.

The coaching staff did note that the team will need to work on conditioning to round into game shape.

Season opener in Wyoming

The Mustangs will travel to Saratoga, Wyo., this week for the first game of the year. Those planning to travel to the game should note a scheduling change. The game was on the West Grand schedule as a Friday night game but will be played instead at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday in Saratoga.

The team from Wyoming advanced to the semifinals of its playoff system last season. Saratoga has about 120 students in high school and students from Encampment also play football in Saratoga. Coach Brown said Saratoga graduated 14 seniors last year and the number of players at the school is down from previous seasons.

Beyond that, the two teams know very little about each other.

The coaching staffs met to exchange films this week so game plans will be formulated over the next few days. The team from Wyoming will also be dedicating a new football field on Saturday.

In another scheduling change, the Mustangs were able to schedule a game with the Buena Vista junior varsity for the third game of the regular season.

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