by nathan oster
There will be no need for a three-way tiebreaker or a miracle on the final weekend of the regular season this year. With two games remaining, the Greybull Buffs have all but clinched a spot in the Class 2A football playoffs, thanks to their 32-14 thumping of Pinedale Friday night that lifted their conference record to 3-1 and their overall record to 4-2.
Mountain View, at 4-0 in league play, is the top dog in the conference, and while Lovell, Lyman and Greybull figure to spend the last two weeks jockeying for position, Big Piney appears most likely to be on the outside looking in when the playoffs begin. The Buffs own the head-to-head tiebreaker and the Punchers would have to win out to finish ahead of Greybull, a tall order considering they have yet to play Mountain View.
It’s a good position for the Buffs to be in heading down the stretch, especially since they now face some uncertainty at the most important position on the field. Quarterback Calder Forcella, who leads all of 2A in passing and total yards, went down with a knee injury early in the third quarter. Riley Hill, a freshman, relieved and led the Buffs on a couple of scoring drives to preserve the win.
Coach Marty Wrage Monday said Forcella’s status for this weekend’s regular season home finale is “uncertain.” He credited not only Hill, but all of the Buffs, for stepping up against a pesky Pinedale squad.
“I thought we played well, especially early on,” said Wrage. “The kids did a nice job of adjusting to what Pinedale was trying to do, and I thought we played good, physical football throughout.”
The most telling stat of the night? The Buffs limited Pinedale to 24 yards rushing on 22 attempts, an average of just over a yard per carry.
“That’s pretty good,” said Wrage. “We’ve been getting better at that. We saw improvement against Newcastle, even though it was kind of tough to tell at times because Newcastle was such a good running team. But we held them below their average. It all starts up front. Our front seven (of defensive linemen and linebackers) is playing pretty well and our secondary is bailing out quicker, helping with the running game.”
Pinedale didn’t run a single play inside the Greybull 40-yard line until the third quarter.
By that time, the Buffs had a big lead.
Greybull opened the scoring in the first when, on a fourth-and-goal play from the 9, Cade Dooley made a nice catch of a Forcella dart in the corner of the end zone. A pair of Dawson Forcella touchdown runs, the first covering 11 yards, the second 3 yards, pushed the Greybull lead to 20-0 at the break.
The Buffs were driving for another score in the third quarter when Forcella went down. It occurred on a scramble to his left when, after running out of bounds and easing up, he took a big hit from a Pinedale defender. Pinedale was flagged for a late hit on the play. Forcella eventually got to his feet and walked to the Greybull bench, but did not return.
At the time, Forcella was 7 of 15 passing for 76 yards and led the team in rushing with 64 yards. Hill relieved him and didn’t miss a beat, finding two of Forcella’s favorite targets, Fabian Davila and Wyatt Nielson, for touchdowns that pushed the Greybull lead to 32-0. The strike to Davila covered 14 yards, the one to Nielson 22 yards. Hill finished 3 of 14 for 53 yards.
Wrage said Forcella and Hill “work together well and learn from each other in practice. Calder has been a good leader for bringing him along. We give our backup quarterbacks (Hill and Clancy Stoffers) a lot of reps in practice because you never know what’s going to happen. We didn’t want Riley to be thrust into that situation, but it couldn’t have been a better learning experience. Instead of coming into a cleanup situation, he played a physical team that was trying to come back on us. He stood in there, faced adversity and didn’t show signs of letting up, which is all positive.”
Pinedale scored twice in the fourth quarter to close the gap, but statistically were outgained by the Buffs, 298-223. Greybull finished with 168 yards rushing, with Dawson Forcella gaining 66, Calder Forcella 64 and Dawson McEwan 39.
The Buffs will play their final home game of the regular season Friday against Lyman. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.
“They’re a team with a lot of similarities to Lovell, in that they throw a little, but their strength is running the ball,” said Wrage. “They run a lot of formations and a lot of misdirection. We will need to stop the run. I think we can run the ball on them, though. We’ll have to play well up front, both sides of the ball.”
Prior to the game, the Buffs will honor their six seniors: Calder Forcella, Fabian Davila, Wyatt Nielson, Chris Ogg, Justin Bacus and Drayton Griffin.
“As a group they’ve been great,” said Wrage. “Those six knew going in that they were going to have to help bring along our younger players, and for football programs, that’s not always an easy thing. But they’ve taken in the freshmen, sophomores and juniors. We’ve been able to develop some good depth. They are all football players, and this is all one team. We don’t go by age, but rather who is going to help us the most.”
Greybull 32, Pinedale 14
G — Cade Dooley 9 yard pass from Calder Forcella (Fabian Davila kick).
G — Dawson Forcella 11 yard run (Davila kick).
G — Dawson Forcella 3 yard run.
G — Fabian Davila 12 yard pass from Riley Hill.
G — Wyatt Nielson 22 yard pass from Hill.
P — Raney 3 yard run.
P — Lloyd 49 yard interception return (Jensen run).
RUSHING — Greybull 42-168 (Dawson Forcella 15-66, Calder Forcella 12-64, Dawson McEwan 12-39, Fabian Davila 1-4, Riley Hill 2-(-5); Pinedale 24-22.
PASSING — Greybull: Calder Forcella 7-15-0-76, Riley Hill 3-14-1-53.
RECEIVING — Greybull: Davila 4-67, Nielson 2-26, Dooley 2-24, Dawson McEwan 1-7, Dawson Forcella 1-5.
DEFENSIVE STANDOUTS — Riley Hill led the team with 27 defensive points, finishing with 9 assisted tackles, 3 solo tackles, 3 tackles for loss and a sack. Cade Dooley followed with 24 (6 assisted tackles, 3 solo tackles, 3 tackles for loss and a sack). Dawson McEwan had 17, Lane Nielson 17, Justin Bacus 15 and Fabian Davila 15.