Bulldogs stop Lyman to finish 11-0
For only the second time in the long history of the school, the Lovell Bulldogs are state champions in football.
The Bulldogs completed a dream season, running the table to finish 11-0 with a 21-13 win over the Lyman Eagles Friday afternoon in the Class 2A championship game played on Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie.
Lovell’s only other football title came in 1987, when the team finished 9-0 after defeating Pinedale in the first round of the playoffs and Upton 14-6 in the title game.
The Bulldogs also played for the state title in 1990, 1991, 1998 and 2003, falling to Thermopolis in 1990 and 1991, Big Piney in 1998 and Glenrock in 2003.
The Bulldogs have been building toward the title since Doug Hazen took over as head coach in 2009. That season, Lovell fell to Glenrock in the first round of the playoffs, but last season the Bulldogs finished first in the 2A West and defeated Burns in the first round of the playoffs before falling to eventual champion Thermopolis in the semifinals.
This season, the Bulldogs were ranked number one in the wyopreps.com poll all season long and expectations were high for a team laden with 14 seniors and 10 juniors.
Despite the target on their back, the Bulldogs defeated Wright 45-8, Pinedale 54-0, then second-ranked Lyman 21-7 for homecoming, fifth-ranked Mountain View on the road 21-19, undefeated and third-ranked Greybull 24-13 in Greybull, two-time defending state champion Thermopolis 32-13, Kemmerer 42-13 and Big Piney 55-6.
Hosting two playoff games, the Bulldogs clobbered Burns 43-6 in Oct. 28 and Newcastle 23-20 on Nov. 4.
Meanwhile, Lyman finished the regular season 7-1, with the Eagles’ only loss coming at Lovell. In the playoffs, Lyman crushed Big Horn 54-0 and Glenrock 22-14 in Glenrock to advance to the 2A title game.
The 2A game was the first of five championship games held in Laramie Friday and Saturday, and the weather was relatively mild for the noon start as a large crowd gathered at War Memorial Stadium, and others filed into the Hyart Theatre back home to watch the game thanks to TCT WEST.
LHS brought a spirit bus Friday, joining the team bus and the band/dance team/cheerleader bus, and many other fans made the trip in private vehicles.
The Bulldogs were ready to play, brimming with confidence as they took the opening kickoff and drove 86 yards to score on a 12-yard run by Dino Collins. Lovell added a three-yard run by Collins and a 17-yard run by Nathan Grant to take a 21-0 lead at halftime.
Lyman got new life thanks to an inadvertent whistle on a Lovell fumble recovery in the third quarter, then drove to score, and the Eagles added a second touchdown late in the fourth quarter. But the Bulldogs were able to secure the ensuing onside kick to cement the victory.
The title game was the final contest for seniors Steven Pickett (injured), PJ Blankenship, Adam Beck, McKayan May, Collin McArthur, Dimas Patina, Brigham Hopkin, Cody Clark, Eli Moody, Garrett Angell, AJ Montanez, Mark Grant, Hunter Hinckley and Ritch McCollam.
By David Peck