CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE STAR VALLEY BRAVES AS THEY HOST THE WORLAND WARRIORS ON FRIDAY NIGHT. THIS GAME IS SCHEDULED TO KICK-OFF AT 6 P.M. THE STAR VALLEY MEDICAL CENTER PRE-GAME SHOW WILL BEGIN AT APPROXIMATELY 5:25 P.M. THIS GAME WILL BE UPLOADED AND ARCHIVED FOR LATER VIEWING AT THIS SAME LOCATION.
The #1 Star Valley Braves (6-0)(3-0) escaped with a 16-15 win in Green River last weekend on a last-second field goal while the Warriors (2-4)(1-2) lost on the road in Powell as their final field goal was blocked. Worland comes into Afton having lost the last five games to Star Valley in the series including a 58-34 shootout in Washakie County last year. Worland is now being helmed by Todd Weber, formerly of the Douglas Bearcats staff, and he is trying to return the glory to a program that boasts 12 state championships. Meanwhile, Star Valley is 6-0 overall for the first time since 1997 and trying to secure their first 3A West Conference title since 2009.
Recapping the Rivalry: Star Valley leads the overall series with Worland 25-14 since they first met in 1955. The Braves hold a 13-7 advantage in games played in Afton, where the Warriors have not won since 2003.
Other Week Seven 3A match ups include: (Rankings courtesy the Wyopreps.com Coaches & Media Poll.)
#4 Riverton (4-2)(2-1) @ Douglas (2-4)(2-1)
Cody (3-3)(0-3) @ #5 Green River (2-4)(1-2)
Powell (3-3)(1-2) @ #3 Jackson (6-0)(3-0)
Rawlins (1-5)(0-3) @ Lander (0-6)(0-3)
Buffalo (3-3)(2-1) @ #2 Torrington (6-0)(3-0)
The Star Valley Independent had a dialogue this week with Sisco Molina, sports editor for the Northern Wyoming Daily News and asked him Five Questions about tonight’s game.
1- Worland had tremendous consistency under Coach Sanford for many years. With so many coaching changes over the past five years, how do you feel it has affected the Warriors football program?
SM – It’s been tough these last few years with the instability in the program. Worland has never been short of athletes, but the coaching carousel has been a major setback and is a large reason for Worland’s low numbers (19 this year). Who can blame them, though? It’s hard to buy into a program when there’s a new coach every year. Many of the kids I’ve talked to – ones who were members of Worland’s basketball and soccer teams that both made it to state title games earlier this year – opted not to play football because of last season’s experiment that went terribly wrong. But, I do believe Worland found its coach of the future in Todd Weber and hopefully with some stability it can work its way back into that upper echelon of 3A football.
2- Coach Weber has a lot of respect from his former team, the Douglas Bearcats. What are some of the similarities that you see between that program and what he is starting to build in Worland?
SM – Weber seems to be following the Douglas blueprint – maximizing speed on the field, running the ball and lights out defense. He’s a defensive-minded coach who built Douglas into a juggernaut on defense in his nine years as an assistant under Jay Rhoades. It was a smooth transition for the Warriors as they seemed to pick up on Weber’s defensive schemes early on and are looking better every week. The offensive line struggled early on picking up on another new blocking scheme, but have looked a lot better the last two weeks. Weber also brings a much higher level of discipline to the program, something that was certainly needed.
3- What type of offensive philosophy should Star Valley fans expect from Worland on Friday night?
SM – This year, the Warriors are back to their old identity of being a power-running football team. The offensive line averages 240 pounds across the board and they’re improving every week, much to the delight of the two running backs Mauricio Caballero and Daniel Araiza. Worland ran the ball 46 times against Powell last week and only attempted 10 passes if that gives you any indication on what to expect on Friday.
4- Who are Worland’s top playmakers and who is someone that opposing fans don’t know yet that you feel is ready to break out?
SM – Worland’s three seniors – Mauricio Caballero, Sampson Rich and Wade Goncalves – are the leaders on defense, all averaging more than 10 defensive points per game. All three names should be called plenty of times and if you see a big collision on the field, it’ll most likely be initiated by Caballero. As for break out players, two come to mind. Daniel Araiza saw limited carries through the first five games (27) and ran for a combined 87 yards. In the loss to Powell last Friday, the junior had quite the coming-out party as he carried the ball 26 times for 157 yards. I expect he will see the ball a lot more in Afton. Star Valley fans may or may not know about this next player, but they certainly won’t be able to miss him. Nathan Kern stands 6 feet 3 inches tall, weighs 310 pounds and is a matchup nightmare along both fronts. The junior got off to a slow start with only 11 total tackles through the first four weeks, but had seven in the win against Cody on Oct. 2 and 13 tackles in the loss to Powell.
5 The last two weeks have come down to field goals for Worland with one win and one blocked. If it comes down to a 40-yard field goal for the win on Friday night what is your gut feeling on the result?
SM – I have 100 percent faith in Worland kicker Kyle Lamb and so does the coaching staff and the entire team for that matter. He hits regularly from 40 yards out or further at practice and has a big leg. His game-winning kick against Cody had enough leg on it that it would have been good from around 60 yards out, no exaggeration. The only question is the protection he gets from those nine guys in front of him. Worland had an extra-point attempt blocked in the third quarter along with the potential game-winner at the end, both on missed assignments where guys got through untouched. Hopefully the Warriors can handle their business and it doesn’t come down to a walk-off field goal for the third week in a row, but if it happens to I’m all in on Kyle Lamb.