Cubs roar to winning season

PMS 8th grade football team posts 4-3 record

Posted 11/13/18

The 2018 football season was a successful one for the Powell Middle School eighth-graders, who improved on their 1-7 campaign a year ago to finish 4-3 this season.

“This year, we …

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Cubs roar to winning season

PMS 8th grade football team posts 4-3 record

Posted

The 2018 football season was a successful one for the Powell Middle School eighth-graders, who improved on their 1-7 campaign a year ago to finish 4-3 this season.

“This year, we weren’t sure what to expect, but we had an alright season,” said Cubs’ head coach Bryan Bonander. “We ended up 4-3 and got second in conference. Cody was the team to beat; they went undefeated, but coming in second was pretty good.”

After starting the season with back-to-back shutout losses to Riverton (6-0) and Laurel, Montana (18-0), the Cubs fought back to take four of their last five games, beating Lovell (22-8), Sheridan (forfeit), Worland (34-16) and Lander (38-12). The only loss in that span was to conference champion Cody 28-12.

“We had some good, quality wins, and our schedule is really tough,” Bonander said. “We used to play teams like Greybull and Rocky [Mountain], and now we’re playing the Sheridans and the Laurels, some of the bigger schools that are giving us good competition. I think playing teams like that is going to help us down the road.”

Bonander and assistant coach Nate Urbach attributed the team’s improvement over the course of the season to a willingness to work hard, coupled with players starting to believe in their abilities.

“We put the boys through a pretty rigorous program at the beginning of the season, just to kinda test their oats,” Bonander said. “I’ll tell you what, they responded well — this is a hard-working group. We pushed, and they responded well to that pressure that we put on them at the beginning.”

Jace Hyde led the Cubs at quarterback this season, and did an excellent job for the team, according to Bonander. Lannon Brazelton started the season on the offensive line and ended it as the team’s starting fullback, while Sammy Adame transitioned from tailback to wide receiver.

“We found out he [Brazelton] would be better for us in the backfield, and he really did well at fullback,” Bonander said. “And with Sammy at wide receiver, we were able to do some trick plays, things like that.”

Ryan Cordes shined at the tailback position, while Cutter “CJ” Barrus impressed coaches with his ability to play bigger than his size.

“[Barrus] did a nice job for being kind of a little squirt. He tackled well,” Bonander said. “Josh Ashcroft also did a nice job on defense.”

Bonander said as far as offensive strategies go, the Cubs run a “watered-down version” of the offensive system head coach Aaron Papich and his staff implemented this year at Powell High School, in an effort to ease the transition for the players into high school next season.

“We definitely use the same verbiage, and tried to mimic a lot of their formations,” Bonander said of the Cubs’ approach. “We’re pretty basic, we worked a lot on just being able to run a play and execute it. Once we had that down, we’d branch off a bit, try to get a little more complex. We’re generally a running team, but this year we mixed it up a bit, probably 60-40 run and pass.”

The eighth-grade team even practiced a couple of times a week with the high school team, a first for the program.

“This is my fifth season [coaching the eighth-graders], and this is the first time we’ve been invited to come up and practice with their kiddos,” Bonander said. “That was really cool, because we’ve been seeing a big drop [in football participation] from eighth grade to freshman year, and I’m sure a number of things contribute to that, including fear of the unknown. But now, if we go up and practice with them a couple of times a season, at least they have an idea of what to expect, and realize it isn’t so bad.”

As this year’s eighth-graders prepare to make the jump to high school ball next season, Bonander said Papich and his staff can expect some “hard-working kids that just love to play the game.”

“These kids will be ready to pin their ears back and play ball,” he said. “The future looks pretty good, in my opinion.”

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