As Kalvin Erickson noted, only partially as an afterthought to Meeteetse’s 52-0 triumph over St. Stephens on Saturday, “No one had an injury.”
When a team has just 10 players on its roster, even in six-man football, that is a problem. But just as important was the avalanche of touchdowns lifting the Longhorns’ record to 1-1 with the road win.
Asa Eldredge and Courtney Braten each scored three times as Meeteetse overran St. Stephens through big holes in the line.
Braten gained 122 yards on the ground and Eldredge galloped for 120 yards. Including extra points, Braten scored 22 points and Eldredge 20.
“Our running game came on,” Braten said. “It was definitely making everything work well.”
In a 45-15 loss to Encampment, Meeteetse started strongly, but lost the rhythm of its offense when the team was down to seven players. Having everyone present and active this time was helpful.
“It definitely made a huge difference,” said quarterback Dace Bennett, who had little reason to pass.
The Longhorns led 12-0 after the first quarter and 19-0 at halftime. Then things got better.
“We started out by going up the middle,” Bennett said. “In the second half, we just put the pedal to the metal.”
Meeteetse rushed for 257 yards and dominated on defense.
“We played very well on both sides of the ball,” said coach Zeb Hagen, “and had only one turnover, which was a bobbled TD pass that was intercepted. We were able to dictate the tempo of the game from the start to finish with our running game.”
Simply having enough bodies to provide breathers was a plus. Two players were suspended for the day against Encampment and Bennett left that game with a leg cramp. That was not an issue this time.
“It was nice to have a full squad again,” Hagen said.
Kaden Dower’s 159 yards rushing provided most of St. Stephens’ offense, but the Longhorns had the defensive antidote to keep the hosts out of the end zone.
Kaden Redding was in on 14 tackles, including Meeteetse’s only sack. Eldredge was part of 13, and Braten, Hadley Abarr, and Erickson were involved in 11 tackles each.
Abarr and Erickson recovered two fumbles apiece. Erickson ran one back for a touchdown of around 40 yards.
After a St. Stephens receiver caught a pass, Bennett separated him from the ball. Erickson scooped it up on the fly.
“I was able to pick it up and run,” he said.
Playing with a full team and playing crisply provided a good morale boost going into Saturday’s game against Little Snake River at home.
“It helped us realize what we’re capable of,” Erickson said.