Rangers fall to 1-1 after road loss to Thermopolis, 34-0

Ranger Owen Barton collected 10 defensive points in Friday’s 34-0 loss to the Bobcats in Thermopolis. Kemmerer travels to Rich Friday to take on the Rebels. (GAZETTE PHOTO/Don Cogger)

Kemmerer travels to Rich Friday to take on Rebels

The Kemmerer High School football team hoped to carry the momentum of their Week 1 victory over Glenrock into their first road game of the season Friday, as they made the four-hour bus ride to Thermopolis.

The Bobcats (1-2) had other plans. Taking full advantage of a Kemmerer squad that wasn’t quite playing to the potential they showed just a week before, the home team racked up 34 first-half points en route to a decisive first win of the season. The Rangers’ defense kept Thermop off the scoreboard in the second half, but was unable to take advantage of their own scoring opportunities in the 34-0 loss.

“It was definitely disappointing, in terms of just our ability to execute in a couple of key spots,” said KHS head coach Bart Jernigan. “I thought there were some bright spots — there were some good things. But overall, the scoreboard didn’t necessarily reflect those bright spots. We just have to work on continuing to get better, work on getting cleaner in clutch moments.”

The Bobcats led 12-0 after the first quarter, but blew the game open with 22 second-quarter points.

“We ran to the ball really well the week prior, and I don’t know whether it was the heat or the weather — I don’t know really what it was,” Jernigan said. “We just didn’t seem to get to the ball in the same numbers this week. Our open-field tackling was not real great, so that bit us in the butt a little bit. But we need to do a better job in our preparation — make sure that we’re ready to compete. We started OK — the first two series and the second half were all right, but you can’t take a half a game where you’re off, like we were.”

Kyle Fox led the Rangers with 104 yards rushing, followed by Cole Rogers with 96 yards. Roany Proffit finished with 39 yards on three carries, while Hunter Batista added 32 yards.

“We had a couple of kids step up in different spots, filling in for guys that were unable to play,” Jernigan said. “I thought they did a really good job of being ready and getting prepped, going out there and playing hard and competing.”

Defensively, Graison Kelley led the team with 13 points (10 assisted tackles, 1 solo tackle, 1 tackle for loss), followed by Tanner Schramm with 12 points (5 assisted tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 fumble recovery) and Colter Krell with 11 (11 assisted tackles). Owen Barton rounded out the double-digit point-getters with 10 (8 assisted tackles, 1 solo tackle). Cole Rogers, Roany Proffit and Bridger Anderson finished with nine points apiece.

“I thought our focus was much better in the second half, in terms of being intentional about what we were doing,” Jernigan said. “We cleaned up some things on our blocking schemes, and we made some good adjustments in the second half. We just need to do a better job finding a way to make those adjustments a little earlier in the game. When you’re down 34-0 at the half, that’s a big hole to climb out of, especially given our offensive style of play. We need to do a better job as a coaching staff of finding a way to make those midstream adjustments throughout the game. But that can be hard when you have nearly 11 kids that play offense, defense and special teams. We’ll look to remedy that this week, with a little more rotational football. We can do a better job as a staff of helping our kids make those adjustments.”

With a game against Rich scheduled for Friday, Jernigan said the Rangers will need to play with the same physicality and intensity they played with against Glenrock in Week 1 to be able to compete.

“Thermopolis is a good team, but I don’t believe they’re 34 points better than us,” Jernigan said. “I think we did a few things poorly, and I don’t know if our conditioning just wasn’t there, or whether we kind of wore ourselves out a little too much in pregame. We just struggled to bring the physicality we brought the week before. The good news is, we saw that physicality the week before against Glenrock, so it’s there — we know we have that potential. Now it’s just rediscovering that confidence to play with it.”

Another aspect of the game the Rangers will be working on this week will be taking advantage of scoring opportunities in the red zone.

“Nobody likes losing, and nobody especially likes losing 34-0,” Jernigan quipped. “But we know the potential is there to play physical, and go out there and make plays happen and win some games. We just need to find that stride again. We were down in the red zone against Thermopolis three times and came away with zero points for it. That changes the whole complexion of the game, if you’re even able to punch in