Buffs improve to 2-2 with win over Chiefs

Nathan Oster

The Greybull Buffs are getting their offense in gear and should be as close to full health as they’ve been all season Friday when they face Rocky Mountain in the first of four straight conference games that will decide their playoff fate.

The Buffs throttled Wyoming Indian 56-14 Thursday afternoon in Ethete, shaking off their head coach’s concern about them overlooking the Chiefs while running their overall record to 2-2 and their conference mark to 1-2. 

“They responded to that challenge pretty well, playing sound on both sides of the ball,” said Coach Jeremy Pouska.  

The Chiefs won their season opener over Guernsey-Sunrise, 40-6, but have since fallen on hard times, losing to Riverside and forfeiting to Rocky Mountain in the run up to their encounter with the Buffs in week four.

“This Wyoming Indian team is way different than the team they’ve had in the past — they’re more disciplined and have the athletes who can make plays happen,” he said. “So defensively, we knew we had to stay true to our assignments and play hard because if we didn’t, they’d be just as capable of putting points on the board as anyone.”

The Chiefs did find the end zone twice, but had no answers for the Greybull offense.  While junior quarterback Joel Miller remained out with an injury, senior Aiden Reece returned to the lineup, catching a 16-yard touchdown pass from freshman Caden Hunt.

It was one of eight touchdowns scored by the Buffs.  Senior Jake Schlattmann and junior Isaak Gaytan combined to account for four of them, with Schlattmann scoring on runs of 3, 15 and 43 yards and Gaytan’s run to paydirt coming on a 15-yard rumble.

The other touchdowns came on a 38-yard pass from Hunt to junior Jesus Rodriguez, a 10-yard interception return for touchdown by senior Chase Oster and a 10-yard run by freshman Yandel Hernandez.

It was easily Greybull’s best offensive performance of the season. Ballcarriers rushed for 267 yards on 34 carries, an average of 7.8 yards per tote. Through the air, Hunt and Schlattmann combined to complete 4-of-9 for 73 yards.

“It definitely feels like we are starting to get our groove and our timing down,” said Pouska. 

The coach credited the offensive line for playing its best game of the season, opening holes that the backs were able to exploit.  Speaking of that backfield duo, the coach said, “We can flip those guys back and forth and are deep as far as running back goes.  Isaak’s a big guy. Looking at him, it wouldn’t seem like a big deal to tackle him. But his running style is like a bowling ball; there haven’t been many able to put a hat on him. 

“Jake is a just hard-nosed kid who has gotten faster – in fact, he was our fastest kid in the 40 — so when he finds an opening, he’s off to the races.”

And while a healthy Miller is expected to reclaim the quarterback position, Pouska credited Hunt for “stepping up in a huge way” against the Chiefs and in general since Miller went down a couple days before the Big Piney game.

Defensively, Schlattmann led the way with 16 points (seven tackles plus a fumble recovery), followed by freshman Caiden Sorensen with 14 (seven tackles and a fumble recovery) and Oster with 13 (two sacks, an interception and a tackle).  Other double digit point scorers were Wyatt Didrickson with 12 and Gabe VanderPloeg with 10.


This week

The Rocky Mountain team that the Buffs face this weekend will enter with a 2-2 record, having already lost to both Big Piney and Shoshoni.  Kickoff on Friday is set for 7 p.m. It’ll be Military Appreciation Night and both teams will wear special uniforms as their form of a salute.

Rocky Mountain won last year’s matchup, but it was closer than the 35-20 final suggests.

“We must control the ball — we can’t afford turnovers on offense — and if they turn it over to us, we have to capitalize and put points on the board and not just have three and outs,” said Pouska.  “Rocky’s a sound team, they’re well coached and they’re going to come out swinging. We have to expect it and be ready to do the same.”

After this week, the Buffs will host Wind River in their annual homecoming game on Oct. 7 before finishing the season with road games at Riverside and St. Stephens. 

“The next four weeks are going to be our most important games of the season,” said Pouska. “Of course, every game is just as important as the last. But it really needs to start this week.  We need to come out, play intense and believe in ourselves.”