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WYOMING STATE HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Snake River runs over Encampment to win second Class 1A/6-man title in 3 years

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LARAMIE — For the second time in three years, and the fourth time in the past 11, Snake River capped a perfect season with a dominating performance at War Memorial Stadium. The Rattlers (10-0) scored 22 consecutive points to open the second quarter to erase an 8-7 deficit and rolled to a 65-24 victory over Encampment in the Wyoming High School Class 1A/6-man Championship game on Friday.

“This is a dream come true for me,” Snake River head coach Jack Cobb said. “For a kid to grow up in Snake River and never have football and to be able to do it two out of three years? You can’t beat that.”

Juniors Kannadis Peroulis and Hadley Myers each had three rushing touchdowns and Encampment turned the ball over five times, leading to 16 Snake River points.

Peroulis and Myers watched from the sidelines as the Rattlers hoisted the 2019 championship trophy. And both missed time this season because of injuries. All that made Friday’s victory even sweeter.

“When I got hurt I was scared,” admitted Myers, who was injured early in the season, “but I knew our team would work hard and they would prosper. They dominated without me in there so I knew I could take my time and not rush back. When I came back I knew it would be the right time.”

Myers, who finished with 159 yards rushing as well as completing a 36-yard pass to set up a touchdown, returned in time for the Rattlers’ playoff run.

“When we didn’t have Hadley for six weeks it was tough,” Cobb said. “But we played as a team and everybody stepped up their game. To get him back for this stretch run is a happy ending for Rattler football.”

The timing of Myers’ return was was perfect as Peroulis suffered a pinched nerve in his shoulder late in the season and played sparingly in Snake River’s first two playoff games.

He came back in a big way in the championship game. His 8-yard touchdown run gave the Rattlers the lead for good at 13-8 early in the second quarter. He broke free for a 50-yard scoring run on the Rattlers’ next possession and capped Snake River’s first-half scoring with a 15-yard touchdown run.

“I didn’t play much in the first two playoff games because of my shoulder,” Peroulis said, “but this game I just decided to push through it as hard as it hurt.”

Snake River struck first when Zane Matheson’s pass downfield bounced off an Encampment defender and dropped into Jeric Martinez’s hands at the 2-yard line. Martinez fell into the end zone. Myers completed a pass to Wyatt Adams for the one-point conversion and a 7-0 lead with 7 minutes, 2 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

The lead didn’t last long, though, as Caysen Barkhurst returned the ensuing kickoff 55 yards for a touchdown. Michael Anderson’s extra-point kick gave the Tigers the 8-7 lead.

That’s when Peroulis went to work. After not carrying the ball in the opening 10 minutes, the junior scored on back-to-back possessions to give the Rattlers the 21-8 advantage.

Two plays later, Seth Maxson stepped in front of a Pickett pass and returned it 31 yards for the pick-six.

Myers and senior Zander Risner finished with 10 tackles apiece to highlight the Rattlers’ defensive effort. Risner also had two sacks and six tackles for loss. Snake River had 11 TFL overall.

Encampment scored the final points of the first half on a safety to trail 35-16 at the intermission. Pickett and Gilbert made it 35-24 on the Tigers’ second possession of the third quarter when they hooked up for a 53-yard catch-and-run.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, who were playing in the program’s first state championship game, that was all their scoring for the day. Encampment finished with just 244 yards of total offense and just 115 in the second half.

“Yeah, 6-man is a wild game with offense, but honestly defense still wins championships,” Cobb said. “Defense is not about individuals, it’s about a team believing in each other.”

Pickett, who finished 14-of-30 for 219 yards and the two TD passes to Gilbert, also was picked off four times.

With Encampment unable to generate much offensively in the second half, Snake River put the game out of reach by giving the ball to Myers. He had touchdown runs of 9, 17 and 30 yards to help the Rattlers extend the lead to 59-24. Risner put the finishing touches on the victory with a 33-yard scoring run.

“This feels 100 percent better than two years ago,” Peroulis said. “I’ve always wanted to hold that trophy and know that I was a part of a team that won a state championship. It feels so good.”

Snake River 65, Encampment 24

SNAKE RIVER 65, ENCAMPMENT 24

Encampment 8 8 8 0 24

Snake River 7 28 8 22 65

FIRST QUARTER

Snake River: Jeric Martinez 34 pass from Zane Matheson (Wyatt Adams pass from Hadley Myers)

Encampment: Caysen Barkhurst 55 kickoff return (Michael Anderson kick)

SECOND QUARTER

Snake River: Kannadis Peroulis 8 run

Snake River: Peroulis 50 run (Jordy Valles kick)

Snake River: Seth Maxson 31 INT return (Valles kick)

Encampment: Koye Gilbert 45 pass from Kaben Pickett (Anderson kick)

Snake River: Peroulis 15 run

Encampment: safety

THIRD QUARTER

Encampment: Gilbert 53 pass from Pickett

Snake River: Myers 9 run (Valles kick)

FOURTH QUARTER

Snake River: Myers 17 run (Valles kick)

Snake River: Myers 30 run (Valles kick)

Snake River: Zander Risner 33 run

Follow sports editor Jack Nowlin on Twitter @wyovarsity

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Sports editor

Jack Nowlin returned to the Star-Tribune in 2007 after eight years covering Michigan State University athletics. A Wyoming native, and a graduate of Jeffrey City High School and the University of Wyoming, Jack serves as the Star-Tribune’s sports editor.

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