Defense carries Buffs past Newcastle

by nathan oster

On a night when their vaunted passing attack was held in check, the Greybull Buffs relied on their defense and ground game to defeat Newcastle 7-6 in a nonconference matchup Friday night on the home field of the Dogies.

No statistics were available, but Greybull Coach Marty Wrage called it a good, old-fashioned defensive struggle. Greybull entered with the top passing attack in 2A, Newcastle with one of top rushing attacks in 2A.

In the end, it was the Buffs who were celebrating, as they not only preserved their unbeaten record, moving to 4-0 overall, but also gained a slice of redemption against a Newcastle team that rudely bounced them from the playoffs a year ago, 38-14, on the same field.

The only stats that matter are these: Both teams scored one touchdown — Newcastle’s coming on a short pass in the first half, Greybull’s on a 50-yard scamper by Dawson Forcella in the third quarter.

The difference in the game was that the Buffs stopped the Dogies on their extra-point try, with Dawson McEwan getting the credit for the tackle. So when the Buffs scored to tie it at 6, all they needed to do was convert to go ahead. Ralph Petty did just that, booming his kick through the uprights for a 7-6 lead. Wrage credited his freshman kicker for stepping up and leaving no doubt.

So was it a night of good defense or not-so-good offense?

“I don’t think there’s any question, it was just good defense by both teams,” said Wrage.

The Dogies did a great job slowing down the Greybull passing game.

The Buffs did the same against what was a tough scheme to defense.

“They run a double-wing, so for us it was a matter of assignment by position,” said Wrage. “It’s hard to do that sometimes, especially when the play goes away from you, but our kids did a great job of staying home.”

Among the big plays were several pass deflections by Cade Dooley and an interception by Luis Burgos. “Even the one they scored on, we had great coverage,” said Wrage.

On offense, the Buffs moved the ball effectively, particularly in the second half when “the offensive line did a nice job of creating holes.” Scheme wise, the Buffs enjoyed the most success when they lined their receivers up wide and spread out the Newcastle defense, said Wrage.

With the win in the books, the Buffs are riding high.

“It was an important boost for our defense and especially for all of the kids who played last year,” said Wrage. “They pretty much did whatever they wanted to do to us in that playoff game. For us to go in there and play good defense, I think it gives us a good confidence boost. Our defense has definitely matured the last couple of weeks.”

Wrage expects the Buffs to get a test this week in a Kemmerer team that likes to throw the ball. The Rangers have yet to win a game, but are playing hard for their new coach.

With it being homecoming week, Wrage isn’t too concerned about his team being in the right mindset for football. “I have no doubt we’ll have a good week of practice and be ready to play on Friday night,” he said. “This group does a good job of that. They will be focused. It’s an important game for us.”

The game will kick off at 7 p.m. — not 6 p.m., which is what some schedules list as the start time. The homecoming king and queen will be crowned at halftime.