Disappointing loss to Riverside ends Greybull’s season

Nathan Oster
The Greybull Buffs scored more points in week seven than they did in weeks five and six combined, but the result was the same as a 24-14 loss to Riverside Friday night brought their 2023 season to a close.

It was Greybull’s third straight loss and the final death blow to the team’s playoff hopes.  The Buffs will be credited with a win by forfeit over St. Stephens this week and finish at 4-4.

While qualifying for the playoffs was everyone’s goal, Coach Jeremy Pouska said he liked the way his young team competed and left everything on the field.

Several miscues proved costly -- foremost among them, the botched snaps that the Rebels pounced on, an interception and several penalties that came at inopportune times.

Leaning heavily on senior running back Ty Strohschein, the Rebels never trailed in the contest, drawing first blood on a 56-yard-run by Strohshein on the first play of the second quarter.

They tacked on another score before halftime on a scamper by Josh Wildman.  The drive started at the Greybull 10 after a Riverside player recovered one of those bad snaps from the center to the quarterback.

The Buffs never fully recovered.   They cut the Riverside lead in half at the 5:01 mark of the third quarter with a touchdown pass from Caden Hunt to Isaak Gaytan, followed by the two-pointer from Hunt to Jesus Rodriguez.

But Riverside re-established the two-score cushion early in the fourth with yet another touchdown run by Strohschien. With another successful two-point conversion, the Rebels moved in front 24-8.

With the outcome no longer in doubt, the Buffs produced one of their best drives of the season in the game’s final minute, completing several passes, the last of which was a dart from Hunt to Jesus Rodriguez in the corner of the end zone that resulted in an 8-yard touchdown as time expired.

The Buffs finished with about 340 yards of offense.  The ground game was working, as the Buffs averaged nearly 5 yards per attempt, finishing with 195 yards on 39 carries. “I think everyone understood how important that game was,” said Coach Pouska. “Our running backs have been a huge part of our success and in that game, they ran their hardest.  I couldn’t be more proud of how those guys carried themselves.

“Isaak (Gaytan) wanted to leave it all out there, ran  with that same mentality and was a force to be reckoned with.  All the seniors played their hearts out.  We’re only losing three, but they’ll be big shoes to fill.

“Jesus (Rodriguez) was a player we could lean on to make catches when you needed them. He was a playmaker.  And Joel (Miller) was a good and physical leader for the team. He played well on the edge.”

In the end, the Buffs fell victim to the one-man gang known as Ty Strohschein.  He carried the ball a whopping 34 times for 205 yards and caught five passes for another 65 yards.

“Is there a better way of saying used heavily — maybe predominantly?  It seemed like about 98 percent of their offense was Ty Strohschein. The kid is probably the best nine-man player in the state and you can’t fault them for wanting to use that tool.  He runs hard.”

For Pouska, the other coaches and the players, losing was a difficult pill to swallow.

“So many things run though your mind at the end of the game ...  there are always the what-ifs:   What if one or two snaps went our way?  What if some of those drives hadn’t stalled due to penalties? But ultimately, those guys played with everything they had, which is all you can ask.  

“We all wanted to win it more than anything. Even though we didn’t, we still ended on somewhat of a high note.  Their energy never diminished, even when they were trailing on the scoreboard, and our young guys are already looking forward to next year.”

While it’s a wrap for the Buffs, the Rebels will be joining Wind River, Big Piney and Rocky Mountain in the nine-man playoff field.  Opening round games are Oct. 27-28.

This week

The Buffs will host a JV game against St. Stephens at 5 p.m. today (Thursday, Oct. 19).  With the visitors being low on numbers, it will be a six-man game.  As of Tuesday, Pouska wasn’t quite sure how he would approach it from a roster and play-design standpoint.

“The point is to give our kids some more experience and more reps,” he said.

Riverside 24, Greybull 14

R — Ty Strohschein 56-yard run (Hayden Paxton pass from Josh Wildman)

R — Wildman 6-yard run (Wildman pass from Strohschein)

G — Isaak Gaytan 8-yard pass from Caden Hunt (Jesus Rodriguez pass from Hunt).

R — Strohschein run (Reece Whisenant run)

G — Rodriguez 15-yard pass from Hunt.

RUSHING — Greybull 39-195 (Lucas Bolzer 9-56, Wyatt Didrickson 6-55, Isaak Gaytan 9-45, Caden Hunt 7-24, Caiden Sorenson 2-3).

PASSING — Greybull: Caden Hunt 13-of-18 for 146 yards.

DEFENSIVE STANDOUTS — Six players reached double figures for the Buffs, led by Lucas Bolzer with 20 (15 assisted tackles, 2 solos, 1 sack). Wyatt Didrickson had 18 (10 assisted, 4 solos), Jesus Rodriguez had 15 (11 assisted, 2 solos), Isaak Gaytan had 13 (1 assisted, 3 solo, interception), Steele Davis had 11 (5 assisted, 2 solos, 2 sacks) and Caiden Sorenson had 10 (6 assisted, 2 solos).