Cokeville came into their first home game of the 2022 season looking to get back on track after a lopsided defeat up in Lovell a week ago and it’s hard to try to dream up a better win than the one they got this afternoon to do exactly that. The Panthers trounced the Pinedale Wranglers 42-7 in this year’s meeting of the 2 schools and even then it was not until the final 4 minutes when all the Cokeville backups were in for the most part that Pinedale scored their TD which broke their 2 week scoreless spell that had been plaguing the Wranglers of late.
The biggest story of this game was Cokeville, who was slightly outmatched a week ago in Lovell in the trenches flipping the script after a week of prepping and collapsing the backfield of Pinedale on nearly every snap. The Panthers defense held Pinedale to 83 total rushing yards in the game and an average yards per carry under 3 which was a much needed boost for their boys in the trenches to be sure. When the Wranglers took to the air things weren’t going any better for them, Luke Gray was a mere 3 for 7 (43%) for 8 yards passing and an interception. When your opponents leading receiver has 6 yards on 1 catch you know your coverage was playing a nearly perfect game.
For comparison on the offensive side Cokeville grounded the Pinedale defensive front for chunks of 4.8 yards per carry and totaling 196 yards on the ground in the contest. 98 of those ground yards came from Jack Dayton who has been the Panthers leading rusher on the season by a wide margin so far and he bumped his season total to 300 yards on the nose in 3 games played this season. He also added 3 scores to his total and somewhat more entertainingly scored all 3 of them on his first 3 carries of the game. If Dayton had simply told his coach he wanted to become just a lead blocker for the remainder of the game he would have had a perfect touch to touchdown ratio of 100% going, but as it were he got 10 more scoreless carries before the clock hit 0:00.
Dayton wasn’t the only impressive Panther offensive performer of the day though as Landon Walker had what was surely his best passing performance of the season early on, completing 75% of his passes on 12 attempts for 140 yards and a touchdown. His best throw of the game sure came on the final play of the half, as Cokeville took the snap with 0:01 remaining at the Pinedale 33 yard line and as Walker rolled to his left his tight end Andrew Jackman broke to the corner route and gained a step of separation from the safety in coverage and Walker hit him over the shoulder perfectly in stride a yard deep in the end zone for a halftime walkoff touchdown.
Jackman himself was something of the star of that pre-half drive as he had not caught a single pass before or after that drive but on the drive itself snagged 3 Walker dimes for 49 yards and the aforementioned house call.
Walker’s lone interception of the day came on an attempted quick slant route to Dayton but opposing QB Luke Gray who was in coverage read the route combo all the way and jumped the route, a truly spectacular defensive read and react type play from the Wranglers corner. Gray was also victimized on the day with an interception by the man who is becoming a bit well known as the defensive ball hawk for the Panthers in Justin Moyes who then turned his shoulders for the goal line and turned it into a pick 6, this was Moyes 3rd interception of the season which again is only 3 games in. An interception per game is one heck of a ratio and if he can keep that pace up he will be a favorite in the 2A defensive player of the year race.
However, he was not the most impactful defensive force on the field for Cokeville on this particular day as Cael Thompson did it all out there, recording 2 sacks and a fumble recovery and if any tackle was being made during the day, somehow someway, Thompson was likely involved. You can’t entirely convince me he wasn’t switching jersey’s between series and making all the tackles for Pinedale as well just to prove he could. A stout defensive performance to be sure by the entire Panthers defense but especially number 52.
It was a particularly one-sided affair today in Cokeville, a game that the Panthers probably needed to get their confidence back up to it’s usual level. Next week the Panthers will have a date with the Kemmerer Rangers at home while the Pinedale Wranglers have to make the drive up to Lovell to face those pesky top ranked Bulldogs (who themselves just beat the 2nd ranked Lyman Eagles 12-6 today in their state championship rematch). Should be a thrilling season in 2A across the board and catch all the Cokeville Panthers every week on SVI 3 and radio coverage on The Wave.