Ranger football scrimmages Cokeville to kick off season

A Ranger defender pushes Cokeville’s Bentley Johnson out of bounds during the scrimmage against Cokeville on August 24. Head coach Bart Jernigan said he was proud of the Rangers’ efforts on the field. (GAZETTE PHOTO / Michelle Tibbetts)

The Kemmerer Rangers football team saw their first action of the season in a scrimmage against 1A Cokeville on Friday, August 24, at the Kemmerer High School stadium.

The scrimmage was not the traditional format of a condensed game; instead, the teams played out specific game scenarios against each other.

Rangers head coach Bart Jernigan said there was a “lot of good” he saw from his team in the scrimmage.

“I really liked the competitive grit that the boys showed. I think that will serve us well as the year goes on,” Jernigan said. “I thought the defensive effort was really solid. I am excited to see the speed at which the kids are playing.”

Jernigan said he thought Friday’s scrimmage format was beneficial for both teams.

“I have always been a big proponent of treating this scrimmage as a focused, situational practice,” Jernigan said. “For us, it was important to get the boys out in positions that we have not yet seen them in during practice.”

The Rangers coach said the scrimmage helped the football players prepare for the unpredictability of what happens in a regular season game.

“You can’t guarantee the flow of a game, but structuring the scrimmage like we did allowed us as coaches to get some evaluation done on individual and schematic levels that tend to be more difficult to dig out in the traditional game situation,” Jernigan said. “Given our current numbers, this scrimmage represented the first live action against like-level opposition for our kids. To us, this week was all about improvement and growth.”

Jernigan discussed some takeaways from the scrimmage that the Rangers will continue to work on in practice.

“One of the [things] we need to clean up is just simple assignment errors,” Jernigan said. “On the plays that hurt us, it was most often a blown assignment or alignment that led to the trouble. We have to know where we are going and then go a thousand miles an hour.”

“In some situations there was a tentativeness that we are going to have to get rid of,” Jernigan continued. “I also want to see us tackle a little better and finish our blocks, but that is going to be something I will probably say every week regardless of how we play.” 

The Rangers football schedule changed when the Saratoga Panthers were forced to forfeit their season because of participation numbers. Kemmerer beat Saratoga in the first regular game last season, ending a years-long losing streak for the Rangers.

Jernigan addressed how he and his team are dealing with the schedule change.

“Life is all about adapting and overcoming. It is essential that we help develop that skill set in our young men,” Jernigan said about the shake-up in the schedule. “Things happen. Plans change. Sometimes the ball bounces funny. When those things happen, you stick to the fundamentals and things turn out OK. So we are just taking it in stride and sticking to our normal preparation schedule.”

Kemmerer will travel to Riverton to scrimmage the Riverton J.V. on Thursday, August 30, instead of the originally-scheduled game against Saratoga. 

“The focus for us is not on the opponent but rather ourselves. While the changes caused a little late scrambling on AD Thatcher’s part and a little worry on mine as to whether we would find a game, at this point, its impact should be minimal,” Jernigan said. “The boys started off this week with a solid practice and are going to do some good things against Riverton’s JV.”

After the Riverton scrimmage, the Rangers’ next game is on Friday, Sept. 7, at home against Lyman, at 7:00 p.m., at the Kemmerer High School football stadium.