If you go…
What: Little Snake River Valley School varsity football vs. Ten Sleep High School
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Where: LSRV, 333 N St., Baggs, Wyo.
The Rattlers are ready to get back to the gridiron.
The Little Snake River Valley School six-man varsity football team opens its season at home Saturday against 1A foe Ten Sleep High School.
In the team’s second year back after a 55-year hiatus, LSRV won the 2010 1A six-man state football title, finishing the year with a perfect 10-0 record.
However, head coach Mike Bates said Ten Sleep could just have easily been lined up across the Rattlers in the state title game.
“Last year, (Ten Sleep) lost by one point, 33-32, to Hanna Elk-Mountain for a spot in the state title game,” Bates said. “I know if I was their coach, I would use that for inspiration this year, and they are returning a lot of players.”
Bates said his team is anxious to get back on the field after a well-spent summer.
“I think the guys’ knowledge of the plays and of the defense keeps improving, and we just have a few minor adjustments before our first game,” he said. “Every year we have the program, I think the learning curve is getting smaller, and the guys keep getting better at their positions.
“There will be first-game jitters, but the team is ready to get the season going and hit someone besides ourselves.”
Much of the Rattlers’ success could lie with first-year varsity starting quarterback Zach Filip.
After two years on the junior varsity team, Filip, a junior, will take over for graduated senior Chance Englehart, who passed for 987 yards last season.
What Filip has going for him, Bates said, is he is the first quarterback to come in as a freshman since the program’s resurrection.
“Our first two years, we had seniors at quarterback, so Zach is our first real system quarterback,” he said. “On the JV team, Zach, like most JV quarterbacks, was running for his life. Hopefully this year he has a banner year with great protection and great varsity players surrounding him.”
Another key position LSRV will have to fill is running back.
Last season, Sean Rietveld led the team with 1,186 yards on the ground.
With Rietveld now graduated, senior running back Daniel Wille will step in.
Wille isn’t unfamiliar with the position, however, as he took about 70 handoffs and had more than 1,000 all-purpose yards as a junior.
And, with the return of senior wideouts Miles Englehart and Rex Stanley, the offense should be loaded with talent, Bates said.
“Miles and Rex have a lot expected of them with blocking and receiving,” he said. “But, they both have two years experience, and with Dan as the No. 1 back, I think we will have a very strong offense.”
Bates said he and the coaching staff instituted a new spread offense formation along with a few other minor changes, but he fully expects to keep the ball where the team had so much success last season — on the ground.
“When I was on the West Coast I always loved airing it out,” he said. “Now, as I’ve gotten older, my thought is you have to stop me first. If they can stop the run, then we will pass more.”
When it comes to Ten Sleep, Bates said the defense might be the most important unit.
In 2010, the Rattlers beat Ten Sleep, 52-13, but Bates said the Pioneers were one of the few teams able to move the ball up and down the field.
“(Ten Sleep) loves to pass and they do so with short passes,” Bates said. “This past week we worked with our defense on defending short passes and making sure everyone was dependable in their position.
“I know Ten Sleep will be up for the game, and we have to be ready.”
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