Rangers close out season with game against Lovell

Close call! Rangers get the 1st down after the chains are brought out and the snow starts coming down.  (GAZETTE PHOTO / Michelle Tibbetts)

The Kemmerer Rangers football team hosted the Lovell Bulldogs on Friday, Oct. 20, for the Rangers’ last game of the season.

The Rangers battled through the cold and snowy weather, but fell to the Bulldogs 20–0.

Jeydon Boyd makes a tackle in the home game against Lovell on Friday, Oct. 20. The Rangers fell to the Bulldogs 20–0. For more photos of the game, see page B2. (GAZETTE PHOTO / Michelle Tibbetts)

Friday night was also senior night for the Rangers. Senior football players and cheerleaders, along with their parents, were recognized in front of the home crowd.

This year’s football seniors are Jeff Caugherty, Louis Failoni, Cyrus Skimore and Coy Taylor, with Oscar Zhang and Terry Uranbold as team managers.

The Rangers finished the football season with a record of 1–7, but they won their first regular season game against the Saratoga Panthers, the first win for a Rangers’ football team since 2012.

“The win against Saratoga was an important step for the program,” said Rangers’ head coach Bart Jernigan. “We are no longer playing against the streak and it has allowed our kids to bring a better focus into each game as an individual competition rather than fighting against some big stroke of bad luck or losses. I hope we have gained back some connection to the community with our effort week in and week out.”

The Rangers suffered a few injuries to their already slim roster this season, including Hayden Walker, Cyrus Skidmore and Quinn Tibbetts.

“I was impressed by the effort that we got out of the multiple young men that had to step into these positions,” Jernigan said “Many of the players we called upon are freshmen and sophomores, so to expect the same exact physical capability out of them as we had out of Hayden is somewhat unfair to them. But in terms of effort and intensity, I felt like those who stepped into his place were ready to answer the bell.”

Sophomore Dawson Schramm fills in as quarterback in the 3rd quarter after Josh Thatcher is injured. (GAZETTE PHOTO / Michelle Tibbetts)

Jernigan said he’s not satisfied with the Rangers’ final scoreboard this season, but he recognizes that high school sports are about more than just playing the game.

“Football is about preparing young men to be better husbands, fathers, employees, employers, and humans,” Jernigan said. “In that regard, I feel as if the season has been successful. But I think we can be better at that, too. In terms of the development and improvement, I think the season had its ups and downs, but I definitely saw us get better and do so against better competition, so I would consider that a success.”

Jernigan said the Rangers’ off-season plans should help them be more competitive next season. He said he expects his football players to play other sports or stay active, improve in their academics, work hard in the weight room and attend summer training and football camps.

Jernigan reflected on his first year as a head coach for the Kemmerer Rangers.

“Every single week and game presents a new learning opportunity, and I have tried to be as reflective as I could throughout the process,” Jernigan said. “I have grown a lot in the individual communication processes that surround the coaching profession. I feel like the Xs and Os aspect of my knowledge has expanded throughout this season as well. I have had to grow in terms of delegating responsibilities to my fellow coaches and players. This is not usually a strong point for me; I like to do everything. But I have a stellar staff and great players. Every time I give them something to do, they find a way to do it well.”

Senior Louis Failoni prepares to catch a pass during the Lovell game on Friday, Oct. 20. (GAZETTE PHOTO / Michelle Tibbetts)

“It’s a humbling experience. As an assistant coach, you always think through the decisions you see head coaches making. You always seem to have the answers in those scenarios, but when you are a head coach, your answers are put to the test against reality. Sometimes you are right and other (times) you are wrong. Even if you’re right, it may not work out perfectly. Sometimes you’re wrong, but your players make it work.”

Jernigan also expressed his appreciation for the Kemmerer community that comes out each game to cheer on the Rangers, no matter the final score.

“I would like to thank this community,” Jernigan said. “It’s incredible to see the support they give to our young men. We are proud to say that we are KR and that we are family.”

 A snow-covered home crowd toughs it out to support the Rangers at their last football game of the season. (GAZETTE PHOTO / Michelle Tibbetts)

Kinzie Painter and Natalia Escobedo wear pink to show support for Breast Cancer Awareness month at the Rangers football game. (GAZETTE PHOTO / Michelle Tibbetts)

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