Rivalry week in high school football includes 82nd ‘Fall Brawl’

JACKSON, Wyo. — It’s rivalry week in the 3A West high school football conference, and there’s none bigger on schedule than the age-old ‘Fall Brawl’ between the Jackson Broncs and the Star Valley Braves.

These teams love to hate each other and, with Star Valley making the trip to the Willie Mac this season, the 82nd version of the showdown comes home to roost.

Star Valley has had the upper hand in the clash for years now. The Braves dealt Jackson two losses last year—once in the regular season (30-0) and once in the playoffs (42-21). In fact, Jackson hasn’t bested Star Valley since a 14-7 win in 2015. In the last five games against the defending champs from Afton, Jackson has been outscored 204 to 44.

Brutal! But talk about overdue for payback.

Things already look different for the Broncs this season. Jackson is off to a 3-1 start while Star Valley has won just once in four tries so far this season. Both teams carry momentum into tonight’s contest coming off wins last week.

Broncs coach David Joyce expects to get Star Valley’s best and doesn’t believe their opponent’s 1-3 record is a true reflection of how good the Braves are in 2020.

“They look like the same Star Valley team they’ve always had. They’re huge,” Joyce said of the Braves’ size upfront. “They just don’t run the ball as well as they have in years past when they had speed on the back end.”

Joyce said the way to beat bigger teams like Star Valley is to capitalize on his own team’s speed. Jackson might not match up pound-for-pound against their Lincoln County rivals, but they have the advantage in miles-per-hour.

Halfback Brody Hasenack is off to a record-setting start to 2020. The junior is coming off his best game yet last week when he ran for well over 300 yards in a win over Riverton.

But if Star Valley keys on Hasenack, Joyce is prepared to get the offense rolling using his blue-chip quarterback Sadler Smith.

“He’s getting better every week. He’s peaking at the right time,” Joyce said of Smith. “I’m hoping he can run a little bit as well. Sadler knows against better defenses he’s going to have to get some yards with his feet as well.”

For Star Valley, life after star running back RJ Cazier, who graduated last year, hasn’t been easy but there are signs starting tailback Lane Oesch is beginning to heat up. Junior Winston Green has dangerous edge speed and senior wideout Tristen Kleeman (6’1”, 160) has been a reliable target for QB Brant Nelson so far this season.

Tonight’s game plays second-billing to the ‘Bighorn Brawl’ between undefeated Powell and Cody, but don’t expect that to take any of the thunder away from the only game that matters to teams on either end of Highway 89.

Star Valley vs. Jackson, Friday at William T. MacIntosh Stadium. Kickoff at 7 p.m. Play-by-play coverage on KZ95 (95.3FM and KZ95.live).

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