For the second week in a row, the Natrona County football team hits the road to take on one of the top teams in Class 4A. The Mustangs (3-2) face longtime rival Sheridan (4-1) on Friday at Homer Scott Field.
Both teams are coming off losses. No. 5 Natrona County dropped a 17-14 decision at top-ranked Rock Springs while the No. 3 Broncs fell 24-21 at Cheyenne East. Last year the Mustangs defeated Sheridan 38-31 in a four-overtime thriller.
Natrona County enters the game with shutout wins over Cheyenne Central and Laramie and a 49-7 Oil Bowl victory against Kelly Walsh. But losses to Rock Springs and Cheyenne East — 14-13 in Week 1 — have the Mustangs sitting fifth in the 4A standings.
“We’ve got to win one of these close games,” NC head coach Steve Harshman said. “And we’ve got to clean up the penalties. We’ve had 38 penalties the last three games. When you’re starting out drives first-and-15 or first-and-25 it’s hard.”
The Mustangs have been balanced offensively, averaging 184 rushing yards per game and 172 yards per game through the air. Junior running back Luke Spencer leads the team with 380 rushing yards, senior quarterback Tyler Hill has thrown for 763 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions and junior wide out Breckin McClintock has 260 receiving yards and three scores.
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“They don’t have a ton of secrets,” Sheridan head coach Jeff Mowry said of the Mustangs. “They just bring good, well-coached athletes right at you. So you’ve got to bow your neck and take on their running game and still stay disciplined to their passing attack.”
Sheridan hopes to counter with an opportunistic defense that leads 4A with 16 takeaways, including seven interceptions, and 33 tackles for loss.
Offensively, the Broncs have threats across the board. Junior RB Colson Coon (386 yards, 3 TDs), junior WR Dom Kaszas (351 yards, 5 TDs) and senior QB Carl Askins (675 yards, 10 TDs).
And, as always, Sheridan excels in special teams. Kaszas has returned both a kickoff and a punt for scores and Caige McComb and Matthew Ketner also have punt return TDs on the season.
“Their return game is really good,” Harshman admitted. “They have a lot of speed on special teams and on offense, and those same guys are flying around on defense.”
Natrona County leads the classification in total defense, allowing just 247 yards per game. The Mustangs have been especially stout against the run, holding three opponents to less than 100 yards and allowing an average of 95 rushing yards per game.
Sheridan hopes to counter that by getting to the outside and taking advantage of its speed.
“Offensively, we have to find ways to create enough space that we can get vertical for a few yards and hopefully sustain that down the field,” Mowry said.
Follow sports editor Jack Nowlin on Twitter @wyovarsity