Growing up in Laramie, Wyo., Michael Bates would go to University of Wyoming football games. He told himself when he watched, “I want to coach on this field someday.”
On Friday, that dream will be realized.
Bates and his 9-0 Little Snake River Valley football team will take the field against 7-2 Hanna Elk Mountain Medicine Bow in the 6-Man Wyoming State Championship game.
“We are approaching this game just like any other game of the season,” Bates said. “We are focusing on perfecting our play.”
Playing in Laramie wasn’t just a dream for Bates.
He said that at the beginning of the season, some of his players set their goal to finish the season in Laramie.
The Rattlers have played with the No. 1 target on their backs in the state playoff. Yet, Bates said his players have not given in to the pressure.
“Our defense just keeps getting better,” he said. “You can look at the Kaycee game as evidence of that. We gave up 44 points the first time we played and only 12 last week.”
The Rattlers surrendered 34 points to HEM in their regular-season meeting, a 50-34 Rattlers win.
“They are bigger than us and I think we played on our heels because of it,” Bates said. “We have talked about playing downhill instead of on our toes.”
Bates said that in the first meeting, the Rattlers used their speed to get to the outside on offense. But, he reminded his team this week that the regular season doesn’t always equate to the same result in the playoffs.
“In 2005, when I coached at (Cheyenne) East, we beat (Cheyenne) Central in the regular season but they whooped us in the state championship,” he said. “You have to throw out any previous results.”
Especially when a team is well-coached like HEM, Bates said. He said that the Miners’ coach, Tom Waring, understands 6-Man football well.
“He will have his team prepared,” Bates said.
Bates hopes to have his team prepared, as well.
“We’ve had some good practices this week,” he said. “Our coaches have done a great job preparing the kids.”
The Rattlers’ coach said he expects a great crowd to support the team as they have all year.
“I’m sure we’ll have a great caravan,” he said. “The people in this community really support their sports well.”
The kickoff is at noon in Laramie. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for youth.