The Star Valley Braves will begin their quest for a third straight Wyoming 3A state title as they open up the 2017 season against the Nevada 3A State Runner-up squad from a year ago, the Spring Creek Spartans out of Elko.
Not only is this a new series for both schools, according to Wyoming-Football.com, this is the first ever varsity contest between football teams from Wyoming and Nevada. The two teams have similar classification profiles. Spring Creek has a student enrollment of approximately 900 students grades 9-12. SVHS will have a student enrollment of approximately 728 students for this school year according to the Wyoming High School Activities Association (WHSAA).
• What to Watch: The name that jumps off the stat page is Spartan receiver Dakota Larson. The 6’2″ 175-pound athlete hauled in an incredible 1,736 yards and 22 touchdowns last season from quarterback Jon Jund, now at Montana State. Larson will be looking to develop the same type of relationship with Thomas Ledford who is expected to be under center for Spring Creek. Ledford’s best friend may be tailback Jason Painter who racked up 867 yards and nine total touchdowns out of the back field last season. A big question mark may be up front where the Spartans must replace all five starters on the offensive line.
The Braves are again likely to feature a power running attack with returning all-state center Cosmo Morgan snapping the ball and aided by Hunter Cranney who should be one of the state’s best offensive linemen. Behind them will be signal-caller Payton Erickson who threw for nearly 700 yards and 7 TD’s last season as a junior. Despite the graduation of all-time leading rusher, Kellen Hansen, and single-game rushing record holder, Collin McGinley, the cupboard is far from bare. Josh Dawson highlights the back field where he rushed for over 600 yards and 7 TD’s last year as a fullback. Hunter Woodward will also provide a big push up front rushing for over 200 yards and 3 TD’s last year in limited varsity action.
• The Other Side of the Ball: On defense the Spartans are tasked with replacing Sheldon Wilkinson who is currently a walk-on with the Nevada Wolf Pack. K-Ci Slade and Xavier Edson will lead the charge from the linebacker corps while Jack Oliphant will anchor the defensive line which will also feature many new starters.
The Braves will also be breaking in many new varsity faces along the trenches but the linebacking corp has a chance to be special despite losing standouts like McGinley and team captain Conner Smith. Dawson, the 2016 3A West Defensive Player of the Year, will partner with newcomer Ronnie Kaye, Payton Erickson and Will Johnson to form a very formidable group. The Star Valley secondary has several new faces as well but is full of athleticism as Wyatt Moore, Gavin Patterson, Alias Erickson and Noah Hutchinson should have their hands full with a prolific Spartan passing game.
SVI gratefully acknowledges the help and expertise of Hasani Grayson of the Elko Daily Free Press in the preparation of this preview.
• Zero Week Schedule (Courtesy of Wyopreps.com )
Douglas @ Powell 6 p.m.
Evanston @ Riverton 6:30 p.m.
Rawlins @ Moffat County, Colorado 7 p.m.
Teton (ID) @ Jackson Hole 7 p.m.
Mountain View @ Green River 6 p.m.
Kemmerer @ Cokeville 4 p.m.
Buffalo @ Lovell Noon (Sat.)
• The Crimson Corner
- SVHS Golf – The golf program will be hosting Jackson, Rock Springs, Evanston, Riverton, Pinedale, Lyman and Kemmerer at Star Valley View Golf Course in Afton. Play will begin at 11 a.m. on Friday morning and will resume again on Saturday morning at 8:30 p.m.
- SVHS Cross-Country – The five-time defending Wyoming 3A champion Braves and the defending champion Lady Braves will host Evanston and Rock Springs as part of their annual Dairy-Air Mud Run at the Draney Ranch. This is expected to start at 1 p.m. in the Tygee Valley.
- SVHS Volleyball – The defending Wyoming 3A champs will try and defend their Cokeville Tournament title as well as they open up the season on Friday morning at 11:30 a.m. against the Lyman Eagles. SVI-3 out of Cokeville will be showing as many SVHS matches as possible on Friday. SVI will be on location on Saturday afternoon.
- Underclassmen Football – The SVHS freshmen and junior varsity teams will begin their season in Ririe, Idaho at 4 & 7 p.m. respectively on Saturday.