by nathan oster
Before the ball was even kicked off Friday night, Greybull Buff coaches and players knew that they were going to the playoffs. Big Piney had knocked off their only remaining threat, Lyman, earlier in the day, leaving the Buffs and Lovell to fight over the third and fourth seeds.
But there was much more at stake than that the ball finally went up around 7 p.m. Never mind that the Buffs were facing one of the top-ranked teams in the state and the Class 2A West Conference champion Mountain View.
“I got the sense all week, and especially before the game, that the kids didn’t want help from someone else; they wanted to get in on their own,” said Coach Marty Wrage. “We had set as a goal at the beginning of the season to make the playoffs four years in a row. When we left the locker room, I just had a feeling we were going to play well.”
That feeling was justified. The Buffs rolled Mountain View 41-15 to secure the No. 3 seed for the playoffs that start later this week around the state. Greybull plays in Wheatland Friday at 7 p.m.
They will head south with momentum. Brayan Castro might be behind the wheel of the team bus — because that’s about the only thing the senior didn’t do on Friday night. Castro rushed for 318 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries and caught two passes for 28 yards, including one that went for a fourth score.
Castro was also one of seven Greybull players to finish in double-digit defensive points.
“It was probably one of the best efforts I’ve ever seen from a halfback,” said Wrage.
The coach was quick to point out that Zack Keisel, the lead blocker, sprung Castro on several of his long runs and that the offensive line had a great night, as well. With Dade Greene being out with an injury and Ralph Petty sidelined all season, the Buffs ended the season with a completely revamped unit from last year.
But still, it was Castro who turned heads. “I think he’s getting stronger every week,” said Wrage. “He seems more determined. He doesn’t want to come out and to be honest it’s hard to get him out of the game.
“The last time he came out was in Thermopolis — and it was just for one or two plays.”
Mountain View entered with the No. 2 ranked offense and No. 1 ranked defense in 2A — and it took less than two minutes of game time for the guests to show why. Their defense forced a Greybull fumble, and on their second play from scrimmage, Kimball Madsen ran 14 yards for the game’s first score.
With 10:10 to play, it was 7-0.
But the Buffs were up to the challenge. On the ensuring drive, a 23-yard pass from Hill to Keisel and the PAT that followed knotted the game at 7-7.
Two more Greybull touchdowns in the second quarter — the first on an 82-yard run by Castro, the second on a 46-yard pass from Hill to Miguel Gomez — pushed the Greybull lead to 22-7 at the half.
Mountain View never mounted a serious threat in the second half, as the Buffs extended their lead to 28-7 on a 57-yard Castro run in the third quarter before the two teams traded touchdowns in the final quarter. Mountain View’s came on a 52-yard pass from Braeden Walk to Trevor Sweeney, while Greybull’s came on two more Castro touchdowns. The first was a 53-yard run, the second a 15-yard pass from Hill.
The Buffs shredded Mountain View’s top-ranked defense, finishing the night with 309 rushing yards on 44 attempts and another 244 through the air on 16-of-23 passing by Riley Hill. Keisel had five catches for 93 yards, followed by Miguel Gomez with four for 66 and Brock Hill with four for 53.
Defensively, Greybull frustrated Mountain View all night. The visitors were credited with 83 rushing yards on 38 attempts. Through the air, they sputtered, completing 5 of 25 passes for 76 yards.
“We started preaching it years ago, that no matter who it is, priority one is stopping the run and making them throw it,” said Wrage. “Now this year, more than other years, we’ve covered the pass pretty well. We knew they like to use two quarterbacks, and that if we could control the run, they’d have to figure out which quarterback they wanted to use. We did a great job gang tackling and not allowing them to break tackles.”
Gerardo Corral and Keisel led the defense, each with 18 points. Korbin Adams was right behind with 17, followed by Riley Hill, Brock Hill and Ian Vannasdale, all with 15. Castro had an interception and Vannasdale a fumble recovery.
The Wheatland team that the Buffs will face Friday night will enter with a pedestrian 4-4 record, but that’s misleading, according to Wrage. Wheatland opened the season with three straight losses to 3A opponents (Torrington, Rawlins and Douglas) but has won four of its last five. The only loss was a 28-14 setback in Glenrock.
Wrage described them as a “big, physical group” with some offensive similarities to Mountain View. “We need to be ready to play,” said Wrage. “But our kids truly believe that they can play with anyone.”