Injuries taking a toll on Buff roster
by nathan oster
After a convincing win over Riverside in week zero, the Greybull Buffs found themselves on the other end of a rout in their season and home opener Friday night against Big Horn. The Rams generated more than 400 yards of total offense and clamped down defensively on an injury-ravaged Greybull offense on their way to a 49-6 win in the annual matchup of Class 2A rivals.
The season is just two weeks old, but already, the Buffs have suffered a season’s worth of bad luck.
A big believer in the spread offense, Coach Justin Bernhardt felt good about the quarterback position going into the Riverside game. But Calder Forcella, the strong-armed sophomore who had drawn raves from the coach, broke his thumb in the third quarter of that game.
So the Buffs were already one player down at the position going into the Big Horn game.
Then the unimaginable happened.
Trailing just 7-0 and on the march with 5:25 to go in the first quarter, the Buffs lost their second-string quarterback, Rob Nuttall, on a play in which he was tackled right in front of the Greybull sideline. A senior who had taken the majority of the reps in practice, Nuttall suffered a severe break of the ankle and will miss the rest of the season.
In stepped the No. 3 quarterback on the depth chart, Bryce Wright. By the end of the first quarter, he, too, was done for the night. He suffered a concussion on a play in which he was sacked and will be out indefinitely.
“The injury to Rob was such a traumatic injury,” said Bernhardt. “The kids saw it. They saw the break. They lost their senior quarterback and captain, so they were a little shell-shocked. Then a few plays later when Bryce got concussed … let’s just say there were some pretty starry gazes in the huddle at about that time.”
In the second quarter and for the rest of the game, the Buffs went with Jesse Chestnut, who had never played quarterback. He ran a “wildcat” set — and did most of the running behind an offensive line that had to be revamped after the quarterbacks went down so that Paul Stewart, the center, could line up in the backfield.
“We had installed a couple of plays, with Jesse at quarterback, during the week in practice because we wanted to use it as a change of tempo,” Bernhardt said. “But without our two quarterbacks, that had to become our entire offense.”
The Buffs installed a couple of new plays in the locker room at halftime, thinking that they’d have Chestnut and Stewart in the backfield. But on the first play of the third quarter, Stewart went down with a knee injury.
It was that kind of a night for the Buffs. By late in the third quarter, Big Horn had 49 points on the board and the “mercy rule” was in effect to shorten the game. The Rams scored every which way — through the air, on the ground, and in special teams.
“They have a talented team — big and athletic,” Bernhardt said. “They’re definitely one of the top four or five teams in the state.”
Greybull scored its only points on a fourth-quarter, 45-yard touchdown run by Chestnut. As a team, the Buffs ran 49 plays from scrimmage. Forty-six were runs, with Chestnut getting 32 of those for 77 yards. As a team, Greybull gained 111 yards on the ground, 10 through the air.
Big Horn finished with 255 rushing yards and 188 passing yards.
“Give our kids credit though,” said Bernhardt. “They didn’t quit. By the end of the game, two thirds of them were playing positions that they hadn’t practiced or played in their lives. Considering that, they did a pretty good job. I’m proud of them for finishing.”
The good news is that it will just go down as a non-conference loss on the ledger.
The bad new is, the Buffs will go into their Class 2A West Conference opener on Friday very shorthanded, particularly at the quarterback position. Considering how the first two weeks have gone, the help wanted ad for the keys to the Greybull offense should include a warning that it could be hazardous to your health.
On Monday, Bernhardt said he didn’t know who would get the start Friday in Mountain View, adding that it will likely be “quarterback by committee” for a couple of weeks — or at least until Forcella is ready to return.
“We’ve just gotta come back, go to work, and keep plugging away,” said Bernhardt. “We’re going down to Mountain View to get a conference win. We’re going to play to win. We watched them on film. They are decent, but beatable. They have a new coach too, so they’re running new schemes as well.”
Mountain View is also 0-1, having lost to Cokeville 45-13 in week one.
Big Horn 14 21 14 0 — 49
Greybull 0 0 0 6 — 6
BH – Christian Mayer 27-yard run (Will O’Dell kick)
BH – Lucas Wollenman 7-yard pass from Connor McCafferty (McClure kick).
BH – Matt Wigglesworth 46-yard pass from McCafferty (McClure kick).
BH – Wigglesworth 36-yard pass from McCafferty (McClure kick).
BH – Wigglesworth 56-yard punt return (McClure kick).
BH – Wiggleworth 36-yard pass from McCafferty (McClure kick).
BH – Scott Passani 6-yard run (McClure kick).
G – Jesse Chestnut 45-yard run.
RUSHING — Greybull 46-111 (Jesse Chestnut 32-77, Fabian Davila 4-17, Bryce Wright 1-1, Chris Ogg 2-4, Luke Zeller 2-4, Justin Nielson 4-12, Paul Stewart 1 for -3; Big Horn 31-255.
PASSING — Greybull 1-of-3 for 10 yards; Big Horn 9-of-13 for 188 yards.
RECEIVING — Greybull: Wyatt Nielson 1-10.
DEFENSIVE STANDOUTS — Chestnut and Zeller led the way with 14 defensive points apiece, while Logan Jensen finished with 13 and Oscar Gomez 10.