LARAMIE — The traveling Farson fans gave senior Clancy Gines a standing ovation as he shed his crutches and put his shoulder pads back on. There was just 2 minutes left in the season — his high school career — and he was going to be on Jonah Field for it.
Gines’ sprinting across War Memorial Stadium came to a halt halfway through the second quarter when he tackled Burlington quarterback Dontae Garza from behind. Gines hyper-extended his right knee and heard it pop. He was assisted to the Farson bench. He returned from the locker room out of halftime in a hoodie and on crutches.
By that time he’d already left an impact on Friday afternoon’s 2018 Wyoming State High School Class 1A/6-Man Football Championship. Farson received a kickoff with 53 seconds left and a considerable lead. Out came Gines and his senior teammates for one more down, a kneel to preserve history.
“I couldn’t take the snap and knee it because I can’t bend my knee,” Gines said. “But I was out there one last time so it was good.”
Instead, his senior teammate Lain Mitchelson took the knee to preserve a 73-38 Farson win and the first state football championship in program history.
“This means the world,” Mitchelson said. “I can’t even explain it to you.”
Farson had come close before in its 31 seasons of football, finishing runner-up to the Kaycee dynasty the last two years. After that many years of waiting, and with the perception of second place surrounding them, the Pronghorns wasted little time going for gold on Friday.
Following a touchback on the opening kickoff and an encroachment penalty before the first snap, Gines took the opening play 60 yards for a touchdown. First play of the next drive, Gines ran in from 49 yards.
It took Farson four plays to score its first three touchdowns. In fact, the Pronghorns scored touchdowns on their first 10 drives.
“Our bread and butter is that counter play, that pitch-back play, it works real well if we block,” Gines said. “Our blockers did an amazing job today and we executed well.”
Gines finished with seven rushes for 236 yards and four touchdowns before suffering his injury. On his last offensive drive he scored from 21 yards out to put the Pronghorns up 40-26. That was the second touchdown in a 39-0 Farson run that put the game away. Until that point Burlington remained in contention because of Garza.
The senior standout led Burlington with 414 all-purpose yards — two rushing touchdowns and four passing. He scored the Huskies’ first two touchdowns on the ground, capping two of the three longest drives of the game (2 minutes, 52 seconds and 3 minutes, 3 seconds, respectively). Garza then threw two touchdowns to keep the Huskies within two possessions. That’s when Farson’s 39-point run began and the game drifted out of reach for Burlington.
Michael Gribowskas ran for 156 yards, Mitchelson ran for 80, both finished with two touchdowns for Farson. Cody Sloan caught a touchdown pass while Levi Johnson and Cortland Barker each ran for scores inside the 5.
Suddenly, it was 73-26. On came the junior varsity. Mitchelson hugged his teammates, including sharing a long one with Gines before retaking the field for the final knee.
“This is our first,” Gines said. “It’s awesome to be a part of and it’s a good feeling.”