To say 2017 was a good year for the Sheridan football team would be an understatement.
The Broncs completed an undefeated season (12-0) last weekend with a 28-14 victory over Natrona County in the Wyoming State High School Class 4A Football Championship at War Memorial Stadium. The win gave Sheridan a three-peat, something no 4A team had pulled off since … Sheridan from 1991-93.
Friday night in Casper three Broncs – seniors Blayne Baker, Kyle Custis and Aaron Sessions – were honored as Star-Tribune Super 25 selections. Not surprisingly, the final award of the night went to another Bronc as head coach Don Julian was honored as the Super 25 Coach of the Year.
“He definitely knows his stuff,” Sessions said of Julian. “He always tells us that if we stick with the process and stay with our assigned job we’ll finish at our ending goal.”
More often than not, that end goal has seen Julian coaching in the season’s final game.
During his 20-year career (1993-2001 at Riverton, 2007-17 at Sheridan), Julian’s teams have played in 10 state championship games, winning nine of them.
Sheridan had to replace four all-state selections, including the 4A offensive and defensive players of the year, from last year’s team. Still, the Broncs rolled through the regular season, with their only close call an overtime victory over Natrona County in Week 2.
This year’s team was the first Broncs squad to go undefeated under Julian.
Julian credited his senior class for keeping the Broncs on course.
“Anything that came across our path they found a way to handle it,” he said. “No matter what happened they found a way to overcome and be successful. You couldn’t rattle ‘em.”
Even though Sheridan came into the championship game as the state’s top-ranked team, the Mustangs were considered the team to beat. But Sessions returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown to give Sheridan a lead it never relinquished.
The Broncs won despite the Mustangs having more yards (444-169), more first downs (32-7) and running more offensive plays (99-43).
“The thing about Coach Julian is he believes in us,” Sessions said. “He cares about the individual player.
“Even when we had a bad practice the Wednesday before the championship game he reminded us not to get off course.”
While the Broncs no doubt benefited from four Natrona County turnovers, the veteran coach also showed he had a few tricks up his sleeve. Custis, a running back, threw touchdown passes to Blake Vigil and Parker Christensen. They were the only two passes Custis attempted all season.
“I think this whole season was a culmination of the seniors watching the process and believing in it,” Julian said. “It would have been easy for them to become cocky and arrogant, but they never did. They were very confident, but they were never arrogant.
“At the end of the (championship) game you could see that players on both teams had a lot of respect for each other, and I think this group of seniors really embodied that.”
Friday’s Coach of the Year award was the second for Julian, who also was honored in 2009 after he won his first state title with the Broncs. He won his first in 1994 at Riverton.
“Coaching has been a big part of my life for a long time,” he said. “And I love it. But the longer I coach the more I realize that it’s so little abut me.”