GUERNSEY – Guernsey’s 2022 homecoming game came on a dreary night, a wet field and an opponent who had won two state titles with preseason odds picking them to win another title this season.
Although the spirits were high at the start of the game, Pine Bluffs exerted their experienced senior muscle and scored first with their defense, sacking freshman quarterback Mason Collar in the endzone for a safety.
On the next play from scrimmage, the PB QB hit a streaking wide receiver for a 46-yard touchdown. And, as they say, the route was on.
Most of the damage was done in the first quarter as the Hornets jumped out to a 35-0 lead and then 48-0 by halftime. Pine Bluffs had an all-senior experienced team that would have rivaled many 11-man teams in the state and they boasted 31 kids on their bench to Guernsey’s four. Fresh legs on an advanced team only added to the frustration, and toward the end of the third quarter, many of the GSHS kids who had gone both ways the entire game began to tire. One thing that didn’t tire, however were their heads.
They never hung them. They never quit. Their spirit of excitement never waned. They weren’t losing. They were learning. They got a chance to play on the same field with one of two teams that will be playing on the championship turf in November. The Vikings had a chance to see what the best of the 9-man class was made of in Wyoming.
With six minutes left in the game and a 61-point lead, the Hornets began to take a knee on offense. They had scored enough. They saw how hard the Vikings had worked and they taught GSHS one more lesson in compassion and humility – two things that a real champion must possess to exact greatness and gain respect.
The scoreboard at the end was 61-0, but the young Vikings learned much more than they bargained for last Friday night. To add injury to the pain, on the last play of the game, team leader and one of the only experienced players for the Vikings, Aidan Noggle went down with a knee injury that left him having to be carried off the field.
Noggle said that X-rays didn’t show a break, but after the swelling goes down, doctors are going to be able to tell if he did damage to the MCL which would most likely be a season-ending injury, creating an even more empty bench.
The Vikings head to Lingle-Ft. Laramie at 7 p.m. Friday night where they will have to face another strong team who has outscored their opponents 111-0 in the first two games.
“Homecoming is always a fun week for the kids,” said head coach Curtis Cook. “They had a great week it was a great atmosphere very supportive, very positive. We had the top team in 9 man come in to play with Pine Bluffs and I thought we showed improvement in a couple of key areas, especially offensively. It was a tough matchup but I felt that the boys handled it extremely well and we improved fundamentally from last week to this week. We still have a long way to go to get to the level we need to be at but it was progress and I couldn't be prouder of these guys. We're going to have to see what our status is this week with injuries and absences but I look forward to seeing more growth as the season moves forward.”