For the second time in three years, Farson is chasing perfection. And for the first time in five years, Meeteetse is playing for a state title. The Pronghorns and Longhorns meet Saturday in the Class 1A/6-man state championship game at Farson’s Pronghorn Field.
Farson (10-0) won its first state title two years ago after losing to Kaycee in the championship game the previous two seasons, so the Pronghorns are used to playing this late in the season. All three of those championship games were played at War Memorial Stadium, however. This year, because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Wyoming High School Activities Association made the decision to hold each of the five state championship games at different venues.
“Obviously, this is something new for us,” Farson head coach Marvin Applequist said. “Playing in Laramie was always fun, but it’s nice to have this game at home.”
The Pronghorns are definitely at their best at home. Since 2014 at Pronghorn Field, Farson is 33-3, including a perfect 8-0 in the playoffs. In fact. Farson has never lost a home playoff game.
Meeteetse is hoping to put an end to that streak. The Longhorns’ only slip-up this season was a 35-16 loss at Farson back on Oct. 16.
“We kind of let the wind get to us and we shot ourselves in the foot in that game,” first-year Meeteetse head coach Zeb Hagen stated. “We threw the ball better in the second half, but we had some uncharacteristic turnovers. This time we have to do a better job of taking care of the ball.”
Farson shut down Meeteetse quarterback Dace Bennett in the previous meeting, limiting the junior to fewer than 100 passing yards and not allowing him to throw a passing touchdown for the only time all season. Bennett enters Saturday’s game having thrown for 1,371 yards and 27 touchdowns, with eight interceptions. He also is second in 6-man with 1,143 rushing yards — averaging 13.0 yards per carry — and 21 rushing scores.
“We had some success the first time we played them,” Applequist admitted. “We ran the ball well and we were able to win the time of possession. But we know if we’re going to slow down Bennett again we are all going to need to do our jobs.”
While Bennett is the go-to guy for the Longhorns, Tristan Lamorie holds that distinction for the Pronghorns. The senior quarterback leads Farson with more than 1,000 rushing yards and 18 TDs and has thrown for more than 500 yards and nine scores. In Farson’s two-pronged QB system, senior Carson Jones has completed 24 of 29 passes for nearly 400 yards with a 9-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Jones also has four touchdowns on just seven receptions.
Farson averages 281.7 rushing yards per game to lead 6-man, but managed only 216 yards in the earlier win over Meeteetse. Hagen knows the Longhorns have to have the same level of success shutting down the Pronghorns if they want to head home with the championship trophy.
“We have to use our speed and quickness,” he said. “We have to get guys to the right spots and we have to be able to set the edge so they can’t get to the outside.”
Seniors Hadley Abarr (21 tackles for loss, seven sacks) and Tozai May (7 TFL, two sacks) and junior Kalvin Erickson (3 TFL, seven interceptions) anchor the Meeteetse defense.
For Farson, seniors Parker Clawson (four fumble recoveries, seven interceptions) and Jones (6 TFL, 1 sack) are the primary stoppers.
The Longhorns and Pronghorns have seemingly been on a collision course all season. Meeteetse’s only stumble was in the loss to Farson, which has outscored its opponents by nearly 30 points per game.
“It’s been a tough year with everything that’s been going on,” Applequist said. “But I’m super-proud of these kids for finding a way to make it work.”
Added Hagen: “We’re here for a reason.”
Follow sports editor Jack Nowlin on Twitter @wyovarsity
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