JHHS football vs. Pinedale

Jackson Hole’s Keagan Butler (9) tries to snag Pinedale’s quarterback Friday night at the first home game of the season. The Broncs won 35-10.

It’s no longer a conference game for Jackson, but Friday’s football game against Worland is a chance for a Jackson winning streak.

The Broncs lost last year’s matchup against then-conference foe Worland 49-14 in a game that the Warriors led 42-7 at halftime. This year’s game should be much different.

First of all, Worland is now in 3A East, although that won’t affect Friday’s scoreboard. Second, Jackson is coming off back-to-back blowout wins. And lastly, Worland has looked far from impressive in its first two games of the season.

The Warriors (1-1) recorded a 14-7 win over Powell (1-2) in week one and were walloped by defending state champion Cody (2-0) by a score of 33-8 in week two. It’s hard to judge the Warriors in a road loss at Cody. But the win over Powell doesn’t look too pretty when you look at what Powell has done versus its other three opponents.

The Panthers are coming off a 1-7 season in 2017 and began the year with a comfortable 29-7 win over Riverton. Riverton finished 2-6 last year and has been outscored a combined 115-15 so far this year in three losses.

A win’s a win, but Powell’s victory over Riverton is nothing to brag about. What makes Worland look vulnerable is that in week one it played a close game with Powell, which then lost to Lander 28-26 in week two. Lander was on a six-game losing streak dating back to last year and has won only three games since 2013.

Teams change, as the Broncs have shown. But Worland’s narrow win over a Powell team that couldn’t manage to beat Lander indicates that Worland probably isn’t as talented as the team that throttled Jackson in 2017.

Still, Jackson coach David Joyce is taking nothing for granted. Joyce said before the season started that the Broncs’ goal in 2018 is to be in every game in the fourth quarter. That goal hasn’t changed despite Jackson winning its last two games by 25-plus points each.

“We’re still a young team,” Joyce said. “That’ll be the goal all year long. Just have a chance to win in the fourth.”

Worland will run an offense similar to the Pinedale triple option attack the Broncs faced last week. The Jackson defense kept the Pinedale offense out of the Broncs endzone the entire night by stuffing runs up the middle and forcing Pinedale to the edges. Joyce said Worland possesses a player who will make the Jackson D work extra hard to slow down the runs between the tackles.

“We gotta stop the fullback,” Joyce said. “He’s the catalyst of their offense, and he gets the ball a lot. He’ll probably get the ball 1 out of every 2 touches. He’s a grinder. We’ve gotta stop the fullback first and foremost.”

Worland should have its hands full on defense as undersize Warrior linebackers try to slow Jackson tailback Jeydon Cox. Cox is averaging 200 rushing yards per game through three games with the Broncs.

Joyce expects a big night from his offense Friday but said his defense will have to play smart if it’s going to do to Worland what it did to Pinedale.

“I feel like we’ll be able to move the football on Worland, and we’re going to have to play assignment football on defense,” Joyce said.

Kickoff is set for 5 p.m.

Worland coach Ryan Utterback did not respond to requests for an interview.

Contact Clark Forster at 732-7065, sports@jhnewsandguide.com or @JHNGsports.

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