JV football team wraps up season with 6-man games

Nathan Oster

The Greybull Buffs didn’t have a varsity game, but that didn’t prevent them from enjoying the final week of the 2023 regular season.  
Instead of dwelling on an Oct. 13 loss to Riverside, the Buffs played two six-man JV games, traveling to Burlington Monday, Oct. 16 and hosting St. Stephens on Thursday, Oct. 19.
Made up almost entirely of freshmen, the squad struggled in their six-man debut, losing big to the Huskies, who have one of the top programs in the state.
The St. Stephens game, meanwhile, turned into a celebration of the spirit of high school football.  
Even though low numbers forced the Eagles to cancel all eight of their regular season nine-man games, a small core of players continued to practice, hoping for an opportunity play a game.
It finally came in week eight.
“It was basically their first and only game of the year and we wanted to try and make it a learning experience for both sides,” said Daryl Shiplet, who co-manages the JV squad along with Will Lavine.
By halftime, the Buffs had built a 20-0 lead. Making matters worse, St. Stephens had lost one of its seven players to injury.  Recognizing that it would leave them with no reserves, head coach Jeremy Pouska offered up the services of six or seven Greybull players, including seniors Joel Miller, Jesus Rodriguez and Isaak Gaytan along with leading rusher Lucas Bolzer.
“As soon as we did that, their spirits went up and they started playing harder and faster,” said Shiplet.  
A shootout ensued, as the two teams combined for 76 points in the second half.  St. Stephens came away with the 51-46 “win,” but it wouldn’t have been possible without the contribution of its Greybull imports, including Bolzer whose TD run on the game’s final play sealed the victory.
“It was funny how it ended,” said Shiplet.  “Their guys wanted to punch it in, but our guys on defense were saying, ‘We can’t let Bolzer score.’  
“I mean, he was still their teammate and all the younger guys, they look up to Bolzer.  But they really wanted to make a stop in that circumstance.”
It wasn’t to be, but in the end, it didn’t matter.
“We wanted them to get something out of it, too, and to make it a learning experience instead of losing 50-0 or whatever it would have been.  It’s hard for either team to learn anything in a game like that.
“After such a heartbreaking loss to Riverside, that was a much better way to end the season.”
The JV squad played six games this year, winning three and losing three.  It was almost entirely made up of freshmen, with just a couple of less experienced sophomores rounding it out.
“The future of Greybull football is very bright,” said Shiplet.  “This group has some big kids, some kids with speed and some kids who love the game.  You can tell they study football when they aren’t playing football.”