Buffs optimistic despite tough loss at Lovell
by nathan oster
For a team still trying to find its way, a road trip to Lovell for a matchup with the reigning 2A champion Bulldogs couldn’t have come at a worse time.
With several key contributors not quite ready to return from injuries, the Greybull Buffs were outmanned and outgunned in every facet — and the final score of 54-16 was indicative of that.
The Buffs were limited to -6 rushing yards on 18 attempts in the first half, and while they did complete a few passes to move the chains, the story was the Lovell offense.
Led by their trio of seniors — quarterback Dylan Hultgren, running back Dino Collins and tight end Cody Savage — the Bulldogs put up 21 points in the first quarter, 27 more in the second and led 48-0 at the intermission.
The Buffs were able to get some positive things done in the second half — but it wasn’t against the Lovell first stringers, who were given the second half off at the half by their coach, Doug Hazen.
“Lovell is a good team … that no secret,” said Coach Justin Bernhardt. “We had seen it on film, and we could see it in their kids in person. It really shows what spending time in the weight room does for a program.”
As he looks to the future, Bernhardt knows that his kids will need to make that same commitment to getting bigger, stronger and faster in the offseason if they want to run with the top 2A teams in the state.
But for now, he’s accentuating the positive — and that is his team’s second-half performance against the Bulldogs.
“Our kids could have packed it in at halftime,” he said. “There were a lot of dazed look in the first half. But I was impressed with how they came out and played in the second half.
“I am proud of them — and I think it helped set a tone for this week,” Bernhardt said, pointing to a big game Friday night against Kemmerer. “We left the field feeling good about ourselves.”
With the mercy rule in effect, the clock ran continuously in the second half. The Buffs moved the ball effectively, though, and got a pair of Calder Forcella touchdown runs and two-point conversions from Fabian Davila and Luke Zeller to account for their scoring.
Greybull finished with 110 rushing yards on 30 attempts. Through the air, Forcella hit on 6 of 19 for 58 yards.
Lovell blitzed the Buffs with 226 rushing yards and another 192 on 9-of-12 passing by Hultgren.
Greybull played without several injured starters, including Rob Nuttall (out for the season) as well as Paul Stewart, Cody Strauch, Bryce Wright and Wyatt Good.
With some of them expected to return this week, Bernhardt said he and his coaching staff feel as good about the team as they have since the Riverside win in week zero.
Bernhardt contends that the team’s defensive woes of late boil down to “Jimmys and Joes,” rather than “Xs and Os,” noting that his team has been unable to fill the void left by injuries to his preseason starting linebacking corps (Jesse Chestnut, Wright, Nuttall and Strauch).
This week, Kemmerer comes to town, bringing 4-1 overall and 3-1 Class 2A West Conference records. The Rangers “are physical,” Bernhardt said. “They run first, they run second, they run third … a wing T power game. They try to wear you down. On film, their kids look fundamentally sound. They don’t run a lot, but what they do, they run very well.
“With having to made adaptations to our offensive game plan every week, I think it’s helped us to learn more, even though you didn’t see it much against a team like Lovell,” Bernhardt added. “So even though we’re coming off a bad loss, and facing a team that’s 4-1, I feel good about our chances. We just have to make every rep at practice count this week.”
Greybull 0 0 8 8 — 16
Lovell 21 27 6 0 — 54
L — Cody Savage 59 yard pass from Dylan Hultgren (Savage kick).
L — Savage 56 yard pass from Hultgren (Savage kick).
L — Nathan Grant 6 yard run (Savage kick).
L — Dino Collins 10 yard run (Savage kick).
L — Ryan Clark 6 yard pass from Hultgren (Savage kick).
L — Collins 40 yard interception return.
L — Grant 35 yard interception return (Savage).
L — Seth Kite 9 yard run (Savage kick).
G — Calder Forcella 1 yard run (Fabian Davila run).
G — Forcella 3 yard run (Luke Zeller pass from Forcella).
RUSHING — Greybull 30-110; Lovell 26-226.
PASSING — Greybull 6 of 19 for 58 yards; Lovell 9 of 12 for 192 yards.
DEFENSIVE STANDOUTS — Calder Forcella led with eight total tackles, followed by Wyatt Nielson with six and Justin Nielson with five. Jesse Chestnut blocked a kick. Fabian Davila broke up a pass.