LARAMIE — Buffalo senior Rowen Ruby remembered playing pick-up football behind the stadium surrounding Mike Moon Field with his now-senior teammates when they were in fifth grade. Back then they dreamed they were playing for a Wyoming state championship and every run was a potential game-winner.
That was a year before head coach Rob Hammond took over. The program then fell upon tough times, including five consecutive losing seasons. Still, they imagined playing for a state championship and knew they could win it. When finally given the opportunity, Ruby and the seniors delivered.
Ruby ran for 217 yards and three touchdowns Saturday to put Buffalo ahead early in the 2018 Wyoming State High School Class 2A Football Championship. His fourth-quarter interception helped the Bison hold on to a 43-18 win, dethroning returning 2A champion Mountain View in the process at War Memorial Stadium. That clinched Buffalo’s first state championship since 2005.
“This was always our goal,” Ruby said. “It’s all come full circle and I’m just proud of everyone.”
Buffalo (10-1) sprinted out to an early lead. Ruby started a run of five consecutive scoring drives with a 67-yard run late in the first quarter. He hit the corner, picked up a key block from senior receiver Aaron Thiele and stumbled through a trip-tackle over the goal line. Ruby capped a nine-play, 80-yard drive with a 35-yard scamper, again to the outside. That’s where the Bison found their most success, forcing Mountain View to make halftime adjustments.
“You’ve just got to break down when you get up there and it’s unselfishness,” Thiele said. “If you’re running the ball you’d want your wideouts to block like we did so that’s what we did, played for each other and did the best we could.”
Triple-threat senior Luke Glassock tallied a 28-yard field goal on the next drive before the Bison returned to the end zone. A recovered fumble at the 10 led to a Cody Milmine 7-yard score before the Bison marched down the field on a 90-yard drive that ended in Glassock connecting with Thiele on an 18-yard fade. That score came with 57 seconds remaining in the first half, giving Buffalo a 29-0 advantage and full momentum.
Then came a Mountain View (9-2) rally. The Buffalos’ high-powered offense rattled off three straight touchdowns, cutting the lead to 29-18 with 10 minutes remaining. Plenty of time to complete a comeback.
“We just knew we had to relax,” Milmine said. “We were playing really tight, really nervous. We knew if we relaxed that we could get it done and be able to stop them.”
But the Bison held. Mountain View never scored again. The Buffalo defense intercepted junior Kimball Madsen on the final two drives and ran out the clock. The Bison faithful that made the trip counted down the final 10 seconds as if waiting for the Times Square ball to drop. In a way it did.
Buffalo hadn’t won a football championship in 13 years. During that stretch they missed the playoffs three times, including back-to-back one-win seasons. Those were dark times for a once proud program.
Saturday signaled midnight of a new day. Brighter, happier times have arrived for Buffalo football.
“I just feel good for these guys because they did a good job of trusting the process,” Hammond said. “It’s cliche, but we worked every single week and didn’t give up and they stayed with us.”