by nathan oster
With a date against Riverside expected to be on the horizon, the Greybull Buffs took full advantage of their Week 0 opportunity Friday night by working out some of the kinks in scrimmages against Shoshoni and Thermopolis.
There was no special teams play, as the three squads had all agreed in advance to treat it like a glorified practice of their offensive and defensive sets. Greybull clearly got the better of those exchanges, outscoring both opponents.
“With it being just two halves of football, we didn’t pay all that much attention on the score or things like that,” said Marty Wrage, now in his second year of guiding the Buffs. “I was pleased with some of the things we did, but the mistakes give us some things to work on this week.”
Greybull moved the ball well on offense in both games behind quarterback Riley Hill.
With big shoes to fill — he is replacing all-stater and Super 25 pick Calder Forcella — Hill showed accuracy and arm strength in his 2015 debut. He saw some time under center last season when Forcella went down with an injury.
Brock Hill is his backup.
The Greybull ground game was every bit as effective, something Wrage expected.
One of the strengths of the offense, he said, is the offensive line, which began the season with Gabe Keisel starting at center, Elias Ewen and Dade Greene playing guard and Eric Vicencio and Lane Nielson playing tackle. In all, there are “about eight guys, total,” who will be rotating in and out to keep everyone fresh, said Wrage. “We’ve got a pretty good rotation going.”
While it’s the name of a TV show, “Dawson Creek” could also be where opponents find themselves drowning this year trying to contain Greybull’s running attack, which in the scrimmage was built around Dawson Forcella and Dawson McEwan, with Brayan Castro and Zack Keisel among others mixed in.
Greybull’s top pass catchers included Cade Dooley, Miguel Gomez and Jordan Jackson.
“We were pleased to be able to plug different people into a lot of positions and how we did in general,” said Wrage. “But we did make a lot of mental mistakes — sometimes the runners would miss their gaps or we’d line up wrong or come out in the wrong formations. But we moved the ball, which is what we expected to do.”
The Buffs will benefit from the return of Dylan McEwan. A two-way starter last year, at linebacker and on the offensive line, he didn’t suit up for the scrimmage but should be able to rejoin the team this week.
The defense is a work in progress, as it gave up several big plays in the Shoshoni contest.
Wrage called its effort on Friday “much improved over last year,” when Shoshoni and Thermopolis shredded the Greybull defense. “We have historically had a hard time with those kinds of offenses,” he said. “I was pleased with how we came out, especially for not scouting and for running a base defense.”
Greybull’s base defense — for the scrimmage, anyway — consisted of a line featuring Ewen and Nielson inside and Hill and Jackson at ends, a linebacking corps of Dawson McEwan, Dawson Forcella, Jose Carmona and Gabe Keisel, and a defensive backfield of safety Cade Dooley and cornerbacks Luis Burgos, Brayan Castro and Miguel Gomez.
No game this week
The Buffs were scheduled to play Riverside on Friday, but that game has been cancelled due to injuries that the Rebels sustained in a scrimmage against Tongue River. It will not be made up and will go down as a forfeit win for the Buffs.
The conference season begins next week when Mountain View pays a visit to GHS. The reigning state champions, Mountain View begins the season as the team to beat in the 2A West. “They lost some people, but they return some good linemen, plus the little brothers of some kids who were pretty good players for them,” he said.
But after Mountain View, it’s a wide open conference. The top four at season’s end will qualify for the playoffs — and the Buffs of Greybull High hope they are among them.