A season ago the Braves were the hunters, trying to knock off a Cody Broncs squad that had won 26 games in a row and looking for a three-peat. This season after handling CHS on their home field in October, Star Valley’s perception became that of the hunted, with all of the rest of the conference aiming for their top spot and spoiling what was becoming a special season.
That didn’t happen.
The Braves continued to be the team that most thought they were, an all-time deep squad of unselfish players who had no issues sharing snaps, plays, touchdowns and time in a 27-0 shutout of a Cody team making their fourth straight appearance in the title.
On Friday, the flow of the game went through junior Smith McClure who put his own spin on a Star Valley championship after his brother, Taft, led the Braves to the title last season.
This year, Smith’s passing numbers weren’t as gaudy, especially as he split time with senior Tristen Hilton and sophomore Cooper Lancaster. But as he cemented his spot as the primary ball-slinger, He also became more comfortable with his chance to carry the ball. This confidence was on display as he accounted for three rushing touchdowns and a passing score and finished the campaign as the team’s second-leading rusher.
- Defense Seeing Red
Early on in the game, the Broncs were deep inside the Braves red zone and threatening to score. Coach Kelly Merritt’s defense answered the call early and often as they ushered Cody out of scoring position multiple times in the first quarter.
Later on in the game with the score 27-0, the Broncs appeared to be poised to break the goose egg on the scoreboard but Maddox Ball was stripped and the ball recovered by Kash Lancaster in the end zone.
It was the second shutout for the Braves defense in the playoffs and the sixth time this season they allowed nine or less points.
- Young at the Helm
This concludes the eight season for McKay Young as the head coach of the Braves after serving as an assistant coach under Chris Howell. In those eight seasons, the Braves have won five state titles and compiled a record of (74-18), a winning percentage of (.804). That win total is third all-time for Star Valley and nine more wins would put him at the top along with Robert Linford.