A strong 5-3 season and third seed in the Class 1A, 11-man playoffs helped the Rocky Mountain Grizzlies garner five players with all-conference honors, plus two who were selected for the Class 1A all-state team.
Senior Cordell McFarlane and junior Gehrig Sweat made the all-state squad, and they were joined on the 1A West all-conference team by juniors Brian Crawford and Garrett Vezain and sophomore Tristan Jewell.
McFarlane was a breakaway threat at running back for the Grizz, including a two-game stretch during which he rushed for 385 yards at Wind River and 299 at home against Riverside for a two-game total of 684 yards. The 385-yard performance broke the single-game Wyoming rushing record, which held for about three weeks until Theo Dawson of Jackson broke it.
For the season, according to Wyopreps.com, the senior finished with 904 yards rushing on 93 attempts, an average of 9.7 yards per carry, scoring nine touchdowns. He also caught six passes out of the backfield for 34 yards, returned three kickoffs for 58 yards and returned five punts for 25 yards.
On defense, McFarlane was sixth on the team with 39 defensive points, averaging 2.8 tackles per game with 13 solo tackles on the season.
McFarlane was also chosen for the Casper Star-Tribune second team Super 25 all-star team.
“Cordell was a quick, fast and explosive running back for the Grizz averaging 150 yards rushing per game,” coach David Hayes said. “He was also a solid outside linebacker for the Grizz as he had to defend against the run and pass and did it well. Cordell was also a key in our special teams play as we used him in various key positions.
“It was great to work with Cordell throughout his high school career and we wish him the best of luck in the future.”
Sweat was a powerful addition to the Rocky Mountain backfield this season and gave the Grizzlies a strong one-two punch at running back. Sweat finished the season with 442 yards rushing on 56 attempts, an average of 7.9 yards per carry with two touchdowns. He also caught five passes for 109 yards, 21.8 yards per reception, with two touchdowns, and returned three kickoffs for 123 yards, 41 yards per return.
Sweat was second on the Grizz in defensive points with 68.5 from his middle linebacker position, averaging 11.4 points and 5.3 tackles per game. He led the team with 19 solo tackles and 4.5 tackles for a loss.
“Gehrig was an integral part in all three phases for the Grizz,” Hayes said. “Offensively, Gehrig played strong rushing (73.7 yards per game), receiving and blocking.
“Defensively, Gehrig was second on the team in defensive points and played well the entire year for the Grizz. He also punted very well for the Grizz, sending punts high and long many times throughout the year and averaging 34.7 yards per punt.”
Junior Brian Crawford was a quick and shifty back on offense and a hard-hitting linebacker on defense. He was third on the team with 56.5 defensive points, 9.4 per game, and finished with 17 solo tackles and 2.5 tackles for a loss.
Crawford carried the ball 17 times for 166 yards, averaging 9.8 yards per carry, with one touchdown. He returned six punts for 31 yards, 5.2 yards per return, and three kickoffs for 33 yards, 11 yards per return.
“Brian had a great year on the defensive side of the ball,” Hayes said. “He played outside linebacker and was very dependable in that position. Brian is a hard hitter who takes on blockers as well as anyone in order to stop the oncoming rush.
“It’s so fun to watch Brian attack; he often comes out victorious. Special teams wise, Brian was solid fielding and returning punts, and when called upon for offense played well.”
Another junior, Garrett Vezain, was a strong lineman for the Grizzlies, finishing with 23.5 defensive points and 13 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for a loss.
“Garrett was an anchor on both sides of the line for the Grizz,” Hayes said. “Garrett was a force blocking on the offensive side, creating nice holes for our backs to run through and giving our quarterback time to pass.
“Defensively, Garrett did a nice job holding up at the point of attack stopping running lanes coming his way.”
Sophomore Tristan Jewell led the Grizzlies with 74.5 defensive points, averaging 12.4 points and 4.8 tackles per game as a safety. He tallied 34 tackles on the season, 18 of them solo stops, and he had 2.5 tackles for a loss and three interceptions. On offense, he caught five passes for 101 yards, 20.2 yards per reception.
“Tristan was a breath of fresh air as he really made a statement from day one,” Hayes said. “Offensively, Tristan was quick and fast and was always a threat. Defensively, he shined as he led the team in defensive points. Tristan was very versatile on the defensive side, and we used him in multiple fashions.
“As a safety, Tristan was easy to coach and very savvy when it came to adapting quickly to an offensive play.”
By David Peck