The Saratoga Sun -

By Mike Dunn 

Grizzlies Blank Panthers


Mike Dunn

Kyle Bartlett, right, lead blocks for Thatcher Spiering during the first half of their game against Rocky Mountain.

The Rocky Mountain Grizzlies (2-0, 2-1) had plenty of time for another score when they got the ball inside the Panther five yard line.

Instead they did the honorable thing; they took a knee to run down the clock. The Grizzlies then went to the sideline to celebrate their 0-28 shutout of the Saratoga Panthers (0-2, 0-3).

After playing a tough team like Rocky Mountain, Saratoga football head coach Scott Bokelman said he was pleased with the performance of his players.

"I thought we played hard, we just have to limit our mistakes," Bokelman said. "I thought there for a while we hung with them blow for blow."

The Panthers were missing some key personnel last Friday, including running back Seth Harrison who was not in uniform for the game.

The first half was a defensive battle for both teams. The Panthers and the Grizzlies traded punts back and forth for the first 17 minutes of the game, as many of the Grizzlies first downs were sent back due to holding penalties. The Panther offense was able to drive into the red-zone, only to be turned away by an interception.

But the Panthers defense stepped up in the first half - allowing only a touchdown and a two-point conversion from the Grizzlies. The Panthers stopped the Grizzlies on two critical drives in the red zone near the end of the half. With 1:14 left in the half, the Panthers forced the Grizzlies to kick, and miss, a field goal on fourth down. The Grizzlies drove the ball down to the red zone again with five seconds left in the half, only to have Kyle Bartlett intercept a pass deep in the end zone.

Bokelman said he was pleased with his defense during the game.

"We have really started to develop a lot of confidence on (defense)," he said. Bokelman added that confidence needs to transfer to the offensive side of the ball.

While the first half was a closely contested battle, the second half was a completely different story.

The Grizzlies intercepted quarterback Thatcher Spiering's pass for a touchdown on the third play from scrimmage. On the Panther's next possession, the Grizzlies intercepted a bubble-screen pass and took it into the red zone. The Grizzlies scored on that drive, giving Rocky Mountain a 0-22 advantage with 9:26 in the third quarter.

The Grizzlies scored on a 15-yard touchdown run, and missed the conversion, with 6:22 left in the fourth quarter to bring the final score to 0-28 Grizzlies.

In the three games thus far, the Panthers have struggled in the second half. Bokelman said while the desire and drive are there in the second half, he thinks his young team may be overplaying and which leads to mistakes.

"It's just about developing experience ... they are getting better and more experienced every game," Bokelman said.

The Panthers had several starters banged up on the sideline. Cameron Lehr and Tyler Hughes left the game early with injuries. Bokelman said Hughes is feeling sore after Friday's game, but should be alright. The Panthers will be running some lighter practices this week to try to heal up for Friday's game.

The Panthers continue to struggle offensively, scoring an average of 7 points a game. Bokelman said blocking has to improve in order for the offense to score some points.

"Were thinking about putting in some misdirection plays for next week," Bokelman said. But the bottom line is we have to be able to block."

Friday, the Panthers may have an even match with the Shoshoni Wranglers. The winless Wranglers are comprised mainly of underclassmen, and led by the lightening-fast senior running back Josh Oaks. The Wranglers will be running a T formation offense, similar to Fort Laramie/Lingle.

"(The Wranglers) are pretty similar to us, but they are bigger," Bokelman said. "We just have to be able to move the ball against them."

The Panthers will take on Shoshoni Wranglers at 6 p.m. Friday at Shoshoni High School.


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