“Manny and Cole are two kids that if they have a good day, we are going to do good things. Manuel is so good at chasing down runners and Cole is great at inside-out breaks from the linebacker position. They counter each other and I think that gives offenses nightmares.”
— Mike Bates, the Little Snake River Valley School’s six-man varsity football head coach, on juniors Manuel Quinteros and Cole Gourlay’s defensive abilities.
If you go …
What: Little Snake River Valley School’s six-man varsity football game vs. Hulett High School in the first round of the Wyoming 1A state playoffs
When: Noon Friday
Where: LSRV, 333 N. St., in Baggs, Wyo.
— Admission is free
Mike Bates said when the Little Snake River Valley School’s six-man varsity football team lines up Friday, the Rattlers 18-game winning streak and 8-0 record go out the door.
“We are starting season two and the regular season is done with,” said Bates, the Rattlers’ head coach, on Monday. “A team could go 6-2 or 5-3 and still make it to the playoffs, but you have to go 3-0 to get the state trophy and the non-winners stay home.
“I think the finality of it raises the stakes in everyone’s mind.”
The Rattlers will host Hulett High School at noon Friday in Baggs, Wyo.
LSRV is the No. 1 seed from Class 1A South while Hulett is the fourth and final seed from Class 1A North.
While the Rattlers went undefeated in 2010 and won the 1A state championship, Bates said every player knows he can never underestimate an opponent.
“Any game day, if you are not focused and you don’t come prepared mentally as well as physically, anything can happen,” he said. “We had a wake-up call against Midwest earlier this season where, as coaches, we didn’t give them credit and it was a close game. We have to have everything in a row and look at each game closely so we don’t have a letdown.”
Hulett went 4-4 in the regular season, but is the only team to make the playoffs the Rattlers have not faced this year.
Bates said by talking to fellow coaches, he is expecting a ground-and-pound game with a little spread mixed in from the Devils.
“(Hulett) has some big kids with a 306-pound player, 280-pound player and a 215-pound player,” he said. “I have heard they love to pound it and I hope they do because we have been really good at stopping that this year.”
If Hulett airs it out, however, Bates said his team is covered in that aspect, too.
The Rattlers have a Wyoming six-man league-best 23 interceptions this season.
Bates said his team has a difference maker against both the run and the pass — juniors Manuel Quinteros and Cole Gourlay.
“Manny and Cole are two kids that if they have a good day, we are going to do good things,” he said. “Manuel is so good at chasing down runners and Cole is great at inside-out breaks from the linebacker position. They counter each other and I think that gives offenses nightmares.”
En route to the state title game, Bates said he wants his team to become more consistent in the passing game.
Against the Devils, the coach said he would spread things out by running more plays from the shotgun formation.
Last week against Farson-Eden, junior quarterback Zach Filip improved, throwing for three touchdowns.
“We improved against Farson, but I want to build it up more and become stronger,” Bates said of the Rattlers’ passing attack. “I think from under center and running the ball, we are as good as we are going to get there. But, I still don’t think we have peaked in passing yet.”
Bates said turnovers carry even more importance in six-man football because offenses are expected to score often.
In all eight games this year, the Rattlers have won the turnover battle.
“Like every week, I think if we can take care of the ball, that is key,” Bates said. “Teams put up 50 to 60 points in a game, so having the ability to step up and create turnovers is huge.”
With the chance that every game could be the Rattlers last, Bates said even practices are taken more seriously.
“There is no second chance in the playoffs,” he said. “We have to bring it, and if we don’t, we won’t be able to bring it the next week.”
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