Injuries plague Saratoga gridders in loss to Cokeville

Concussion to Schneider and knee injury to Zeigler reduce running game to a limp

 


Two injuries and a long bus ride may have played a role in the Saratoga football team’s 47-7 loss last Friday to conference rival Cokeville. The defeat leaves Saratoga with a tenuous 1-2 conference record and an uncertain roster heading into a critical match up with Rocky Mountain High Oct. 14.

Trouble started for Saratoga well before the first snap on Friday. Earlier in the week, senior guard Max Schneider discovered he had sustained a concussion in a Sept. 30 Homecoming contest against Shoshoni. Schneider traveled with the team to Cokeville, but because of the head trauma, Panthers coach Kegan Willford didn’t play Schneider during the Oct. 7 game.

Schneider has played a key role on the offensive line, and Willford said his players struggled learning their new responsibilities with Schneider off the field. “We had to do a little rearranging here and there (particularly on the offensive line),” Willford said.

In Willford’s recounting of the game, Schneider’s absence left the Panthers offensively hobbled. “We weren’t able to move the ball, especially on the ground,” Willford said. The Panthers finished the game with 26 runs for a meager 16 yards.


Those running struggles may also have been related to another injury sustained by Saratoga. Two or three plays into the first quarter, Willford said fellow-senior Alex Ziegler joined Schneider on the sidelines after taking a Cokeville helmet to the knee on a catch-and-run for no gain.

Willford said Cokeville employs a full-time athletic trainer, and that her initial examination of Ziegler’s injury was encouraging but inconclusive. The coach said Ziegler was feeling much better during the second half of the game, but with the game already largely out of grasp at 40-7, Willford continued resting the young man.

“He’s one of our big offensive weapons,” Willford said of Ziegler, who finished his last game against Shoshoni with 186 total yards and two touchdowns. Willford said he hoped both Schneider and Ziegler will be ready to see action Oct. 14, but that, “obviously, their health is the number one priority.”

“We didn’t play as well as we have been the last couple weeks,” Willford summarized. The Panthers ended with 184 offensive yards, with Kyle Miller logging the day’s only touchdown on a pass from quarterback Sam Schneider, who is Max Schneider’s younger brother.

A lot of the Panther’s strategy against Rocky Mountain High will be based on who is ready to suit up Oct. 14, Willford said. “All of it depends on what kind of personnel we have.”

Willford continued, “They’re a different kind of team than what we’ve played so far this year.” Willford said he expected a lot of distance passing from Rocky Mountain based on what he has heard from around the conference. “We’ll have to test out our corners and our outside linebackers, (to defend against such passes)” Willford said.

Rocky Mountain is ranked number 2 in the state among 1A teams, but Willford was confident the Panthers would put in a strong performance against them. “Shoshoni actually beat (Rocky Mountain),” Willford said.

Saratoga came within feet of defeating Shoshoni in the Panthers’ last home game, and Willford hopes a similar performance can put them over the top against Rocky Mountain 1 p.m. Oct. 14 in Cowley, Wyo.

 

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