JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – It’s Senior Night tonight at the Broncs’ last regular season game, and the matchup with Powell should be a dandy.
The game has playoff implications and the Panthers and Broncs battle for the #3 seed in the 3A West. The winner takes on the #2 seed in the 3A East. The loser of tonight’s game will have to settle for 4th place and face the Star Valley Braves in the first round of the playoffs. Both teams would likely want to avoid that scenario.
Jackson will fete its 12th grade class on the gridiron including Kirby Castagno, Peter Goettler, Pearson Evans, AJ McCool, Jeydon Cox, Teague Johnson, Rico Vasquez, Sterling Smith, Kevin Flores, Ben Phocas, Bradley Creighton, Stuart Allen, and Jalen Dow.
Powell always plays the Broncs tough here in Jackson. Head coach David Joyce expects the Panthers to try and run the ball.
“I feel like they are going to try to run it down our throat,” Joyce said. “I’m not sure how successful they’re gonna be with some of the stuff they’ve showed on film. We have really gotten better each week at stopping the run. I feel our guys match up really well with what they are trying to do. We have been stopping the run in between the tackles. So, I really feel like we are going to force them to throw at some point in the game. At least that’s our plan: to force them to beat us through the air.”
The Panthers rely on a couple of big fullbacks—Carson Olsen and Toran Graham, both 225-pounders. They also boast a couple of shifty halfbacks in Brody Karhu and Kadden Abraham. Quarterback Landon Lengfelder will throw when he has to.
For the Panthers, it’s about ball control. They eat up clock with the run game but scoring has been a problem. Of all the teams in 3A with a 500 record or better, Powell has the least amount of points—108 in seven games for a 15.4 average. By contrast, the Broncs have put up 276 points in eight games for a 34.5 average per game.
Powell comes into the game with a 4-3 record, 2-2 in conference. They are coming off a win against Green River last week by a 26-14 score. Powell has only one win on the road this year but it was a big one when they knocked off the Lander Tigers (7-1), handing them their only loss of the season.
Watch for Jackson to get off to a fast start. In games where they’ve struggle to get things going in the first half, they haven’t won. A slow start against Bear Lake and Cody cost the Broncs this season. Jackson mounted comebacks in both games but fell short. This is a team that plays with more confidence when it has the lead.
Powell’s Ethan Asher—slated to be the team’s starting quarterback before being involved in an automobile accident this past August—will be honored at tonight’s game. His Panthers played their first two games of the year as Asher lay in a coma. He continues to improve slowly after spinal surgery. The Panther team and the Powell community have rallied around the young man (#ethanstrong). As the family says, “God is not done.”
Powell vs Jackson, Friday, 5 p.m. kickoff at William T. McIntosh Field.