It was a successful home and season opener for the Rocky Mountain Grizzlies Friday afternoon as they pulled away from the Normative Services Wolves for a 36-7 non-conference victory in Cowley.
The game was close in the first half, coach David Hayes said, and NSI even took an early 7-0 lead. The Grizz had forced the Wolves to go three and out but fumbled the punt. On the next play, NSI scored on a sweep to the left.
Rocky came right back when sophomore quarterback Kirby Winland hit flanker Joey Jewell on a 56-yard touchdown pass. The kick failed and Rocky trailed 7-6.
The Grizzlies scored just before half to lead 12-7 on a three-yard touchdown run by Winland on a wedge up the middle, then scored four more touchdowns in the second half.
Cannon Simmons scored the first touchdown of the third quarter on a five- to 10-yard run, Hayes said, and then the sophomore had a “pick six” – returning a interception for a touchdown. Rocky led 24-7.
In the fourth Winland rolled to the right and found Jewell in the corner of the end zone from about 20 yards out. Then Ethan Landers took a pitch from Winland, bobbled it a bit and then tight-roped the left sideline for a 20-yard touchdown run.
“We got off to a slow start,” Hayes said. “We played gritty football the whole game. We hung in there. It was close for about 2½ quarters. We would take two steps forward and one step back. Finally we got our feet under us and started out-running and out-passing them.
“There’s stuff we need to work on in all three phases of the game, but as a staff we’re really proud of them. They fought hard. We believe we can do some good things if we fix a few things.”
Though he said he doesn’t like to single players out individually, Hayes did note the play of Winland and Jewell, and he said the young line also stood out. Senior Jake Jones had a “really good game on both sides of the ball,” he added. “All three of our running backs did very well (Simmons, Landers and Jones). All of them probably had 50 yards or more.”
Hayes said he did not have official game statistics by press time.
The Grizzlies will travel to Ethete Friday for a 6 p.m. kickoff against the Wyoming Indian High School Chiefs, who fell at Pine Bluffs 49-0 Friday.
“It’s a game where we feel we can go in and take care of business,” Hayes said. “If we are mentally sound we will be fine.”
Returning for the Grizzlies will be junior lineman TJ Willis, and senior Bryce Ward is also close to returning. But lineman Anthony Estes will miss the game due to a shooting contest he is attending.
By David Peck