A lightning storm swept through Casper about 45 minutes before Kelly Walsh’s 2019 home opener, the first home game under head coach Aaron Makelky, was scheduled to begin. That delayed the kickoff by nearly 30 minutes, leaving excitement and the aroma of grilled meat in the air. Then, at approximately 6:23 p.m., Hurricane East made landfall at Harry Geldien Stadium.
Cheyenne East scored 65 seconds into Friday’s contest. Each additional touchdown came through various means and at various intervals, but one inevitably followed another. At the end of Friday’s game all that was left was a desolate 120-yard field and a scoreboard showing 55-0.
And the onslaught came immediately. Kelly Walsh fumbled on the first play from scrimmage and East standout Trey Bower hopped on it. Three plays later the Thunderbirds were in the end zone.
Then came quarterback Graedyn Buell’s torching of the defense, notably with a pass to Chance Aumiller that the senior finished for an 83-yard score. Kelly Walsh fumbled on its ensuing drive and the Trojans’ harnessed aggression came back to bite them as Buell found a wide-open Christian Anderton for a 16-yard touchdown on a screen.
“Once you’re rolling it’s hard to stop, but getting started is the hard part,” Buell said. “So once we got off to a fast start we’re excited.”
An end to Kelly Walsh’s ball security issues was nowhere in sight. The Trojans fumbled once again, leading to a 11-yard touchdown reception by Adrian Hernandez. Aumiller played quarterback on that down because Buell’s helmet came off during the previous play. Then came a fourth Kelly Walsh fumble. Anderton scored from close-range not long after. Kelly Walsh got the ball once again only to fumble a fifth time. On the next play Buell found Jackson Hesford across the middle and the junior receiver took it 78 yards for the score.
Making the scoreboard even more frustrating, Kelly Walsh let quality field position get away. The Trojans started drives at their own 41 or better on four separate occasions. One ended in a punt, three ended in fumbles. The home side even had a chance to sustain a drive when East was called for roughing the punter, but an offsetting unnecessary roughness call came when a Trojan tackled the receiver who called for a fair catch. East, of course, scored the following possession with Buell’s bomb to Aumiller.
The Trojans’ most offensive success came through their running back-by-committee approach with Esias Spillaine under center. That dynamic drove the home side into the red zone for the first time before ultimately falling short of the first-down line.
“Baby steps,” Makelky said. “Cheyenne East is a very good team. We knew that this was going to be a huge test. We’re short a couple guys in key areas but that’s football. You’ve just got to do it. They get 99 percent of the credit for doing a great job.
“They’re a program of where we’ll be. We’re just in different places right now.”
To make things worse, East countered with a quick scoring drive when Anderton once again found pay dirt. That’s when the East starters subbed out, meaning that Buell finished with 374 unofficial passing yards. That mark would be a yard short of tying the 10th-most in a single game in state history.
Regardless of what skill position combination the Trojans put together, they couldn’t get into the end zone. The rule-mercy continuous clock kept running even as the Trojans’ offense didn’t. Then came the mercy of the final whistle. Dating back to last week’s opener against Laramie, the Trojans have failed to score a touchdown in six straight quarters.
“Inconsistent at best,” Makelky said.
In the fallout of Friday’s disaster — Kelly Walsh’s most lopsided loss since a 56-7 playoff loss to Rock Springs in 2001 — were the players that endured it. They’re the ones left to pick up the plywood and get back to work, rebuilding a program that just weathered a storm.
“Those big plays,” senior Kevin Anderson said. “You just try to forget them, move onto the next play. Obviously it’s still there for some of the guys but we just try to put it out of our minds. Can’t go back.”
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CHEYENNE EAST 55, KELLY WALSH 0
Cheyenne East 21 21 7 0 55
Kelly Walsh 0 0 0 0 0
CE: Ox Schroeder 6 run (Schroeder kick), 10:55.
CE: Chance Aumiller 83 pass from Graedyn Buell (Schroeder kick), 5:16.
CE: Christian Anderton 16 pass from Buell (Schroeder kick), 1:08.
CE: Adrian Hernandez 11 pass from Aumiller (Schroeder kick), 9:13
CE: Anderton 6 run (Schroeder kick), 6:30
CE: Jackson Hesford 78 pass from Buell (Schroeder kick), 1:02
CE: Anderton 3 run (Schroeder kick), 1:55
CE: Sam Hartigan 10 run (kick failed), 7:07