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Nine panthers earn all-state honors

Awards roll in for PHS football

Twelve Panther football players earned all-conference honors while nine of those also earned all-state accolades as the list of post-season honors poured in for the Panthers late last week. The announcements were made late last week by the Wyoming Coaches’ Association.

Dewey Schwahn, Vince Sleep, Hayden Cragoe, Cory Heny, Anthony Lujan, Garrett Lynch, Riley Stringer, Brendon Phister and Tyler Patterson were named 3A all-state selections for the undefeated state champion Panther football program. Those nine, plus Garrett Michael, Zach Thompson and Matthew Widdicombe achieved all-conference accolades.

“As far as the total number of all-conference and all-state selections, I was tickled pink,” said Powell High School head football coach Jim Stringer. “Like every year, you come back from those meetings wishing you could have gotten just one more kid on both lists, but we had great representation and I’m very proud of the kids that made it.”

Schwahn finished as Class 3A’s scoring leader during his senior season. Over the course of the year, he amassed 134 points for the Panthers, including 14 touchdowns, a lone field goal and 47 extra points. He finished fourth in 3A in receiving yardage with 52.5 yards per night after ending the year with 34 receptions for 578 yards. He also finished high atop the charts for interceptions with seven this season and also served as the team’s punter and kicker.

Schwahn was also named as a member of the Casper Star-Tribune’s Super 25, a list of the top 25 players in the state, regardless of classification.

Sleep was among the state’s top defenders, leading Class 3A in defensive points this season and finishing third in the classification in per-game average defensively. It marks the third season Sleep has numbered among 3A’s top defenders. He also gained 619 yards as a back in the Panthers’ offense and scored a team-best 10 touchdowns.  Like Schwahn, Sleep was named to the Super 25.

Cragoe is one of six non-seniors named to the Panthers’ all-state slate. Cragoe stepped in as the Panthers’ signal-caller this year and led the state in pass efficiency with a 165.4 quarterback rating. Cragoe completed 55 percent of his passes for 1,518 yards and added another 258 yards along the ground. Cragoe led the state with 10 interceptions as a member of the Panthers’ defensive backfield and was a second-team Super 25 selection.

Heny was the Panthers’ leading ground-gainer during the season, rushing for 785 yards. He also hauled in 25 passes for 406 yards during the season to rank second behind Cragoe in all-purpose yards. He returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the Panthers’ first-ever varsity contest at the new Panther Stadium and finished fifth on the team in defensive points. He was a third-team Super 25 selection.

Anthony Lujan ranked among Class 3A’s top defenders, finishing seventh in the category, primarily as an outside linebacker during the year. Lujan finished the year with 158.5 defensive points, including 6.5 tackles for loss and 28 solo stops. Lujan recovered three fumbles, trailing only Sleep in the latter two categories on the team. Lujan was a third-team Super 25 selection.

Garrett Lynch was a second-team Super 25 selection after leading Powell with eight tackles for loss during the season as defensive end. Lynch finished with 58 defensive points, a figure that was hard to come by as many teams intentionally directed their offense away from Lynch’s area of the field. Lynch also gained 258 yards along the ground for the Panthers and accounted for a pair of touchdown receptions.

Riley Stringer was the lone sophmore honored for the Panthers on the all-state roster. Serving as part of the team’s offensive and defensive lines, Stringer accounted for 60 defensive points, including four tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. Stringer was an honorable mention Super 25 selection, one of the few sophomores in the state so honored.

Brendon Phister was another honorable mention Super 25 selection this season. After finishing as one of the state’s top defensive points performers in 2011, injury slowed Phister to 85 defensive points this season. Phister still finished with 18 solo tackles as a member of a Panther linebacking crew that anchored a defense that surrendered less than 162 yards per game.

Tyler Patterson was another defensive stalwart for the Panthers. Patterson finished with 6.5 tackles for loss and 71.5 defensive points. Patterson led Powell with three quarterback sacks during the season and also tied for second on the team with four pass breakups.

“I’m very proud of all the kids,” said Stringer. “The most important thing though is what we accomplished as a team back on Nov. 9. The individual accolades are fine and dandy, but I think all of these guys would agree the important thing is what we did as a team.”

Six of Powell’s nine all-state performers will be back in uniform next season. Only Schwahn, Sleep and Patterson graduate in the spring.

“It’s just a nice testament to the program overall,” said Stringer. “It’s nice to see young, talented kids coming back year by year now. It’s nice to see a nucleus coming back for next year.”

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