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NCHS Tigers Tired of Second Place

Posted: Thursday, Aug 29th, 2013


Photo/ Sandra Johnson




As the hierarchy in 1A football goes there are three teams that have stood above the rest for the past several years. While Southeast and Cokeville have combined for nine state championships, the third-wheel Niobrara County Tigers have come up bitterly short recently. NCHS has three semi-final losses and three title game losses since the last championship in 2002. This senior class of 2014 has finished second in football twice, track & field twice and basketball once since their freshman year.

This year’s seniors have been a part of only four losses the past three seasons as they are split at two apiece by the aforementioned schools. A collective anger comes from the seven as to how last year’s championship game unfolded in Laramie (for those short of memory- Southeast embarrassed Lusk 40-6). Super 25 player Matthew VandeBossche, fellow all-stater Hunter Dockery, all-conference Bryce Sturman, and four letter winning linemen headline the class that’s not interested in finishing second again. “On a scale of 1-10, we’re at 11 on the scale of...,” said Matthew VandeBossche.

Dakota Clark (OL, LB), Dax Dockery (OL/DL), Kolby Eddy (OL/DL) and Garrett Smith (OL/DL) all have seen playing time at various spots on the line over the past two years and will be expected to open holes for a backfield full of game-breakers. They will also be crucial on the other side of the ball to solidify a defense that finished number one in 1A but lost several players to graduation.

Matthew (RB, S, P), Hunter (QB/CB) and Bryce (QB/LB) are three key parts of the backfield and among some of the most athletic players in 1A. While VandeBossche is an explosive three-way player, Dockery and Sturman shared time at quarterback last season. Head Coach Matt VandeBossche says that needs to be resolved after the Wright scrimmage. “I’ve talked to both of the guys and said we’re going to settle on one quarterback this year, It’s still up for grabs.” Whatever way the coaches decide- both will be on the field in almost every crucial situation the Tigers face on both sides of the ball.

The junior class is led by all state players Zane Hladky (OL/DL) and Derick VandeBossche (RB/LB), who finished 1-2 on the team in tackles and defensive points as sophomores. Also returning is Martin Fitzwater (FB/LB), Brady Thurston (RB/DB), Zach Venable (TE/DE), Adam Kraft (WR/DB), Shawn Thompson (OL/DL), Tucker Stephens (OL/DL) and Tristan Graham (OL/DL).

Underclassmen coming back and expected to contribute include sophomore letter winners Jordan Jackson (TE/DE) and Logan Lamar (WR/QB/DB). Other sophs the coaches are looking to step up include Brawk Cole, Chancey Hales and Taylor Molzahn. The freshman class is ten deep and the collective opinion among coaches and seniors is that there is plenty of talent to help NCHS get over the final hurdle. “We’ve got some new young players that have been working hard and it’s great to see their numbers,” added coach VandeBossche. “We have a lot of depth on this year’s team, on the line, backs and ends, we have got a very solid group of kids.”

The Tigers are seeking an eighth straight playoff berth, yet will have a tougher road to get back to Laramie. Road trips to 2A Newcastle, Riverside, Pine Bluffs and Yoder (Wyopreps top-ranked 1A team) are on the schedule, and none will be easy. The traditional NCHS-Southeast game has been moved to late in the season and all the seniors and coaches like this change. “Traditionally, it’s the two teams playing for the conference championship, and you don’t want that in week two or three,” said Coach VandeBossche. Home games include Shoshoni (1A playoff qualifier), Lingle-Ft Laramie (1A playoff qualifier) and Upton-Sundance (Wyopreps fourth-ranked 1A team).

This Saturday NCHS hosts Wright in a scrimmage game starting at 10:30 a.m. Following that Burns will face Upton-Sundance in a 1:30 p.m. scrimmage on Gibson Field at Fullmer Stadium.

The (Wyopreps.com) third-ranked Tigers open the season at 2A Newcastle on Sept. 6 with kickoff set for 7 p.m.

For the complete article see the 08-28-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 08-28-2013 paper.









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